Connecticut Arrest Highlights Need to Know the Laws about Moving Deer

June 23, 2017 | by Nick Pinizzotto

You may have seen the story that we posted on our Facebook page earlier in the week about a man in Connecticut who was arrested for bringing a deer carcass into the state from Pennsylvania, a CWD-positive state. Apparently the man was claiming the deer, a 24 point buck, was taken in Bridgewater, Connecticut, but several people became suspicious and an anonymous tip reported to the Environmental Conservation Police led to an investigation. That investigation revealed that not only was the deer shot on a captive deer farm in Pennsylvania, but infectious parts from the animal were illegally brought into Connecticut.

The Environmental Conservation Police posted the following statement on their Facebook page: “Deer from a confirmed state, such as Pennsylvania, must be properly reported when harvested and must be processed for consumption and cleaned prior to being brought into Connecticut. CWD is contagious in deer and once it is established in the herd it is very difficult to eradicate. As a result of these violations, an arrest warrant was applied for, approved, and served.”

It’s bad enough that the suspect tried to pass off a farm-raised deer as a wild deer, apparently for the purpose of establishing bragging rights, but violating Connecticut’s regulations that ban the importation of any deer or elk carcasses is even more concerning. According to the law, bringing in deer, or part thereof, from any state where CWD has been documented unless the meat has been de-boned, is illegal. This regulation is typical of most states nowadays, and if you are unsure about your specific state, I suggest that you dive into the regulations before the coming season.

While there is still an awful lot that we don’t know about CWD, or that we’re still learning more about, one thing we know for certain is that moving deer, dead or alive, is bad. That goes for deer relocations led by wildlife agencies or movements between captive deer facilities given the absence of a reliable live test, and transport of carcasses by hunters who can't be immediately sure if their deer is impacted. CWD spreads the fastest and the furthest when carried in a vehicle, and that’s something that all deer managers and hunters should be concerned about.

One of the biggest fears I have is that most hunters have no idea about what the rules are concerning CWD, and transport of carcasses. I have seen deer being driven into and out of my home state of Ohio on vehicles with out-of-state plates countless times, and I shudder when I think about how many of them are being moved illegally. It also seems that taxidermists are mostly unaware of the regulations. For example, when I dropped a deer off at a local taxidermist’s shop recently, I was admiring some of the other deer that were brought in. When I asked about where they were from, I learned that a good number of them had come in from out-of-state. When I brought up CWD rules, it was clear that the shop owner was completely unaware.

My point here isn’t to point fingers. The reality is, most hunters have never really had to deal with CWD during their hunting careers, and the education process takes time. That said, ignorance is not an acceptable excuse. You can expect to see state wildlife law enforcement officers stepping up their attention to this issue in the coming years, and you don’t want to find yourself being arrested while participating in a sport and tradition that you love. Even more importantly, spend some time learning more about CWD, and understand your role in helping to limit its spread. A good place to start is the CWD Alliance website. You’ll be helping to protect the future of deer and hunting in the long run.