Chronic Wasting Disease Travel Laws Successful Hunters Need to Be Aware of

cape and antlers prepped for CWD travel restrictions

Chronic Wasting Disease (also known as CWD) has caused states to put limitations on transporting deer from areas where the disease is known to exist. This article discusses the Chronic Wasting Disease travel laws that successful hunters need to be aware of.

cape and antlers prepped for CWD travel restrictions

It’s becoming a requirement that capes and clean racks along with having your deer meat boned and wrapped out are the only way to legally transport deer killed in CWD positive areas across state or county lines.

With more states, including Michigan and Wisconsin, adopting regulations limiting the transportation of deer from Chronic Wasting Disease infected areas, it’s becoming more commonplace to leave more than just a gut pile behind after a successful hunt. Areas without CWD do not want Chronic Wasting Disease brought in via hunter-killed deer carcasses from areas that do have the scourge. To prevent this, Chronic Wasting Disease travel laws, rules, and regulations are being adopted in many states. They require a hunter who kills a deer in a CWD infected area to follow specific guidelines for the transportation of that deer. These CWD guidelines differ according to state so check the games laws in the states you’ll be traveling and hunting to be in compliance.

Chronic Wasting Disease Travel Laws Require No Bones Other Than a Clean Skull Plate Be Transported

Typically you can expect that you’ll have to transport a completely boned out deer, leaving the head, bones, spinal column, and any lymphoid tissue in the area (county or DMU) where the deer was shot. You will be able to transport the rack of a buck but it must have the attached skull plate clean of any tissue.

Chronic Wasting Disease Has No Cure Yet

We’re dealing with a nasty disease for which there is no cure yet so we can expect to have to do our part to prevent inadvertently bringing CWD into areas where it does not exist.

How do I bring home my buck if I want to have it mounted by a taxidermist?

If you want to mount the buck or doe you shot in a CWD positive area and you have to transport it across county or state lines that have restrictions on bringing in deer from a CWD positive area, the deer will first need to be properly skinned and caped. In the case of doing a shoulder mount or full body mount of a buck, the portion of skull plate the antlers are attached to will have to be cut from the skull and cleaned. If you have a local meat processor butcher the deer, they will likely do a proper job of cutting and wrapping the meat, but good luck finding one that can properly cape out a deer head. So have the butcher leave the head attached to the hide and take the whole thing to a local taxidermist. Here are resources for finding Wisconsin taxidermists and Michigan taxidermists.

Editor’s Note: The author is a fine taxidermist himself, so contact Lee if you’d like your deer mounted!

A taxidermist is the best answer to doing a proper caping job that will allow for the cape to be done right and be legally transportable. Meat processors are great for boning out, cutting, and wrapping the deer but leave the job of caping to a taxidermist, it’s a specialty that most meat processors are not in the business of doing.

The alternative to having a meat processor or taxidermist process your deer is to do the job yourself. These days we can rely on the computer to educate those who have never done it. Search YouTube for “field butchering” and “proper deer caping cuts” to view videos showing how it is done. Be sure to cut and wrap all meat, and clean all tissue off the skull plates of a buck’s rack. Collect and properly dispose of all waste parts, seeing to it they are disposed of in a way that they will end up in a state approved landfill. You will have to find the disposal service locally to where the deer was killed as the waste parts will not be transportable out of that CWD positive area by anyone other than a licensed waste hauler. Transporting deer from CWD positive areas over state and county lines is an issue we, as hunters and stewards of this resource will be dealing with for the foreseeable future.


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