Maine’s CWD Law As Written... Is An Accident Waiting To Happen!
By Steve Beckwith
When Maine enacted a Chronic waste law in 2006, I wrote numerous letters to then President of SAM, George Smith and directly to the DIF&W, as did several meat processors along Maine's borders to argue that deer from NH and Canada walk freely into Maine! At that time the DIF&W stood strong and refused to make any changes, being obstinate, not wanting to allow any deer into Maine that was not processed, a 100% nothing crosses into Maine whole law. Totally ridiculous and unacceptable law. But low and behold the law was changed in 2008, to allow NH deer and Canadian deer into Maine whole. No explanation was offered, they just heard all the complaints and changed the law. I am not sure if it was any one entity, SAM or the voice of sportsmen like myself or the butchers on Maine’s borders, but the law was changed to that of this:
(Currently it is illegal to bring the whole carcass of a deer, moose, elk or caribou into Maine except if it comes from New Hampshire, Quebec, Newfoundland, Labrador or New Brunswick.)
I am still not satisfied with the law as written. It allows animals from Canada that do not border Maine (IE: Newfoundland, Labrador) , but not States that border NH?? Maine's DIF&W has operated for many years as if Maine hunters are a million miles away from VT, or Mass.. Most States in the US require that NO deer can be transported into their State from any state that has documented cases of Chronic Wasting Disease. Which is an adequate requirement that makes sense to me. The closest state to Maine is New York and the last case in NY was 2005, which was domesticated cervids that caused their problem initially, then 2 wild deer in that same county were found to have CWD. No further cases have been reported or found since in NY. So why is it that Maine can not allow deer from Mass., CT, RI. or Vermont ? Maine needs to respect New England Hunters and at allow these states deer and moose to cross it's borders and be processed here in Maine on a return hunting trip!
Hunting trips to areas that can be hunted with a one day round trip from Maine, should be allowed to return home with the entire deer. I doubt if anyone that sits in the position of creating such laws as this one for the Maine hunter has ever traveled from their home in the morning and hunted in VT, or Mass., hunted all day and shot a deer at sunset, then had to spend the remainder of the evening getting the deer out, to a tagging station, stop off in New Hampshire to get the deer processed and then wake the butcher up at 9-10 PM, all to abide by Maine's absurd transportation of cervid law into Maine! I would dare to say, they have not ever had the opportunity I just mentioned. Most of these law makers live in Central Maine or north and hunting in NH is a far stretch for a days hunt even from Central Maine. Are they even aware that a person from Jackman Region can be hunting in VT, by way of Canada, in just a 2 1/2 hours too, and that hunter has to process their deer before coming home as well!
I am not the only hunter from Maine that has the convenience of hunting Maine, NH, VT and Mass. from my dooryard! I can be in VT in 2 1/2 hours, I can be in Mass. in 45 minutes, I can be in NH, in 15 minutes and I can be in Augusta in an 1 1/2 hrs. But because of this inconsiderate law put on Maine hunters by those in control of writing the wording of this law, I am greatly inconvenienced when I harvest a deer. Two examples are, One in 2007 when the State would not allow even NH deer into Maine whole, I shot a deer in Portsmouth, NH just at dark, I spent that entire evening finding a butcher. The deer was shot only 10 minutes from Maine's border. but I spent an entire evening getting this deer to Strafford, NH and then had to return to retrieve it after it was butchered two days later. The second one was last Saturday, Dec 10th, 2011, I shot a doe in Mass. and was only 20 minutes from Maine's border and had to repeat the nightmare of 2007, because this deer from Mass. again requires de-boning and processing before entering Maine, I again brought this deer all the way to my butcher in Strafford, NH for processing and had to return on Monday to pick up the processed meat. It takes me just as long to drive to Mass. as it does to Strafford, NH from my door yard!
Until any State has a known case of Chronic Wasting disease, no State's cervid animal should be treated like it has the plague. Maine DIF&W and the law makers of this State need to change this law, require hunters to check this website, http://www.cwd-info.org, before going on a hunting trips to determine how their game needs to be handled before returning to Maine. The list is easy to read, and very easy to see there is nothing wrong with a deer from VT or Mass, CT or R.I.? Alberta, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Saskatchewan, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. CWD has been detected in 19 states and two Canadian provinces. My point here is that Maine could end up on this list, just as well as Mass, CT or VT. But it is not on it yet! The making of absurd laws like we have will not prevent this disease from coming here. In all actuality, I am a very rare case, I abide by the law as currently written and I am not implying that I am the only law abiding hunter, there are many more like me. But I would dare to say, there are more not like me that simply do not and will not obey “this” foolish Maine law! Read this DIF&W Bulletin on the last page, it plainly states that hunters are not abiding by the law as written, they have confiscated deer this year (2011) from two States on the pre-mentioned CWD list! So what does having a law preventing “ALL” deer from other states, except NH, from entering Maine accomplish? NOTHING! When will the DIF&W learn that only law abiding hunters, follow the laws that are set before them! More hunters that hunt outside of Maine, break this particular law then abide by it! It’s a fact and I hear about and see it every hunting season. Ask any butcher or taxidermist in Southern Maine if they see this! If they don’t tell you they see it, they are most likely covering it up because it will only hurt their business to do the correct “law abiding” thing, which is, to turn in the hunter to the game warden! Not too good for business don’t you think?! These businesses not only loose that particular business transaction, but the hunter looses his deer and probably is fined too. Then...when word of mouth soon travels through the hunter's personal list of buddies, no one will use that taxidermist or butcher for being the local rat fink! Right or wrong this is another reason, the DIF&W’s CWD law is not helping Maine’s deer herd as it proposes it does!
If Maine really wants to protect Maine’s deer herd, they would require all processors and taxidermists in Maine to dispose of any deer waste in a proper location. (Incinerated may be that option?) With that said, evidently the DIF&W disposed of the confiscated deer that came from known states to have had CWD “some place in Maine”? I doubt they trucked them back to VA and NY’s border and put them back on the land they came from, now did they!? Seems simple enough for me, that if the DIF&W has a safe place to discard those such animals, then the remains of yours and my deer could safely be discarded there as well. In the Statement below the DIF&W Say’s “ Deer with CWD that die will also infect the area where the carcass decays since the infected proteins (prions) that cause the disease may persist in the soil.” May persist in the soil? Is it actually “known” that dead animals infect the soil? In another report I found on the NY Dept of Health website say’s “Experimental evidence indicates that infected animals probably transmit the disease through animal-to-animal contact and/or contamination of feed or water sources with saliva or bodily waste material. There is experimental evidence of environmental contamination of the soil through decomposition of infected deer carcasses as well as from feces or urine from infected deer. The transmission may be enhanced when deer and elk are congregated, such as around man-made feed and water stations” Giving the hunter proper direction to take care of the possible threat, is a better course of direction, then to make laws that are so easily broken and encourage improper handling and sneaking game in for back door processing! Maine law as it is written for CWD is a law that will shoot the Maine deer herd in the foot! If CWD should ever arrive in Maine, hence putting Maine on the ill fated list, this will be because some person or persons were not properly educated in how to handle this situation, and I personally hold the DIF&W and lawmakers of this State accountable for their lack of proper guidance and direction to Maine’s hunters. Simply creating a law like they have is NOT the answer!
On a side note: Since the discovery of CWD in two free-ranging deer in Oneida County, NY in 2005, over 6,500 deer in the CWD containment area and almost 27,000 samples statewide have been tested. No additional cases of CWD have been detected in the State of NY to date. This goes to show the stigma that is placed on NY, and currently has no known cases in six (6) years of testing. Does this make VT and Mass. a threat to Maine? Only if NY starts bringing truck loads of manure,soil and cervid carcasses to Maine, that might carry prions in it from CWD's past issue in NY back in 2005! The likelihood of this being done would have to be a terrorist attack by NY,on Maine's deer herd! It's ok to bring a deer in whole to Maine from Quebec, and parts of Quebec border NY, kind of a double standard in this law as written!!
It is not the problem it was in Colorado, Wyoming, and Wisconsin's CWD epidemics of years ago, here in New England it’s not that great of a threat to Maine’s deer herd. In fact it is rather a miniscule threat at best! Prevention is the key to it arriving here, and prevention starts through proper education of those that are involved, taxidermists, game processors, hunters and captive cervid farmers,by simply creating a law that everyone is going supposedly to abide by will not stop this disease from coming to Maine! How about trying to encourage and educate proper handling of cervid animals instead. An inch of respect goes a lot further then shoving a law down a hunters throat!
A “No Hunting” signs tells the non-law abiding person, “Hey.. there’s a lot of deer in this piece of woods, it’s ok to hunt here!...As long as we don’t get caught!” A law requiring hunter orange is for your own safety they say! That law does not stop the senseless shooting of another human being simply because it’s the Maine law to wear hunter orange! There is no difference in the law about cervids, it is a law in place to prevent an accident, we all know education and proper guidance is the key to becoming a safe, ethical sportsmen, not just making a bunch of laws and expect un-informed, un-trained, un-educated people to abide by them, because it’s a law! If Maine’s DIF&W is as genuinely concerned about CWD entering Maine’s deer & moose herds as they imply in their documentation, then they will listen to suggestions, and make the right decision for Maine’s deer & moose herd!
December 13, 2011
Inland Fisheries & Wildlife - Press release
MAINE DEPARTMENT OF INLAND FISHERIES & WILDLIFE
284 State St., SHS 41, Augusta, ME 04333
www.mefishwildlife.com Main Number: (207) 287-8000
AUGUSTA, Maine – Are you hunting out of state? Maine hunters should know the regulations surrounding bringing harvested deer, elk, moose or caribou back into the state of Maine.
Currently it is illegal to bring the whole carcass of a deer, moose, elk or caribou into Maine (except if it comes from New Hampshire, Quebec, Newfoundland, Labrador or New Brunswick).
Already this fall Maine has had hunters bring in whole carcasses from Virginia and New York, both states that have identified Chronic Wasting Disease in their borders. These deer were confiscated and destroyed.
Since the fall of 2006, it has been illegal for hunters who harvest any cervid (members of the deer family) including deer, moose, caribou or elk, in any state, province or country to bring whole carcasses back into the state of Maine (except NH, QC, NL or NB). This means hunters must have their animal processed outside of the state and can only bring back boned-out meat, hardened antlers, skull caps that have been cleaned free of brain and other tissues, capes and hides with no skull attached, and finished taxidermy mounts.
Why has Maine enacted this law?
The threat of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) being introduced into our deer and moose population is serious. Chronic Wasting Disease is a lethal disease that affects the nervous system of cervids and always leads to the death of the animal. An infected cervid can pass on the disease to other cervids. Deer are most likely to contract the disease because they are social, group together, and travel widely to feed, to mate, or to wintering areas. Therefore the potential to transmit the disease over large areas is great.
Deer with CWD that die will also infect the area where the carcass decays since the infected proteins (prions) that cause the disease may persist in the soil. Maine and its neighboring states have been testing their free-ranging deer herds for CWD for many years, and have found no evidence of the disease to date. Thus, it is critically important that we do not introduce the disease by importing an infected carcass.
If you hunt out of state the Department recommends planning ahead of time to have your animal processed in the state where it was harvested.
If hunting in any state west of New Hampshire, or hunting in Nova Scotia or a Canadian province west of Quebec you can only bring back boned-out meat, hardened antlers, skull caps that have been cleaned free of brain and other tissues, capes and hides with no skull attached, teeth, and finished taxidermy mounts.
If you bring a harvested deer, moose, elk or caribou back from out of state, and you were not aware of the importation rule, you must contact your local Inland Fisheries and Wildlife District Warden to report the importation of the carcass.
You can call the IFW information line at 207-287-8000 for your District Warden’s phone number.
The Department asks hunters to help protect Maine’s deer and moose population by being aware of and complying with the transportation rule. The rule was created to ensure the health of our native deer and moose populations.