Chronic Wasting Disease: Understanding and Preventing the Spread in New Jersey
What Is Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)?
Chronic Wasting Disease is a fatal neurologic disease impacting cervids like deer, elk, moose, and caribou. It's caused by prions, infectious proteins that result in always fatal outcomes with no known cure.
How CWD Spreads
- Direct and Indirect Transmission: CWD can spread through animal-to-animal contact or via a contaminated environment. High-risk activities include congregating deer around food sources.
- Human Facilitation: Moving live infected deer or parts of infected carcasses can contribute to the spread.
- Prion Shedding: Infected animals shed prions through saliva, blood, feces, and urine. These prions are present in various body parts, especially the brain, spinal cord, and lymph nodes, and can remain infectious in the environment for years.
Symptoms of CWD
- Late-Stage Symptoms: These include emaciation, coordination issues, difficulty swallowing, excessive thirst and urination, and a loss of fear of humans.
- Other Factors: Infected deer often succumb to other causes like vehicle collisions or hunting before showing symptoms.
New Jersey's Preventative Measures Against CWD
- Bans: Importation of live cervids and hunter-killed whole carcasses is prohibited.
- Restricted Materials: The use, sale, and possession of deer-derived scents, lures, and semen are banned.
- Synthetic Alternatives: Only synthetic scents or lures from non-deer species are legal.
Regulations to Prevent CWD Spread
- Whole Deer Carcass Ban: Importing whole carcasses or non-taxidermied heads from other states or countries is banned.
- Allowed Materials: Only boned-out meat, cleaned skullcaps, hides, shed antlers, and clean upper canine teeth can be brought into New Jersey.
- Deer-Derived Scent and Lure Ban: Sale, possession, and use of deer-derived scents and lures are prohibited.
CWD Response Protocol in New Jersey
- Observation of Symptoms: If you encounter a deer displaying CWD symptoms, immediately contact Fish and Wildlife authorities and, if instructed, humanely dispatch the deer without field dressing.
- Documentation: Note the location and take photos or videos if possible.
- Contact Details: Reach out to FW Wildlife Health, Deer Biologists, or Law Enforcement depending on the region.
Guidelines for Hunters in Other States
- Bring Back Safely: Only return with cut and wrapped meat, deboned meat, hides without heads, finished taxidermy heads, antlers, clean skulls, or upper canine teeth.
- Precautions: Soak skull plates in a 30% bleach solution to destroy prions.
- Prohibitions: Do not bring back whole carcasses or non-taxidermied heads.
New Jersey's strict regulations and proactive measures are essential in keeping the state CWD-free. Hunters play a crucial role in these efforts and must adhere to these guidelines to prevent the spread of this fatal disease.