DEM reminds hunters to take precautions to keep deer herds free of chronic wasting disease

DEM reminds hunters to take precautions to keep deer herds free of chronic wasting disease

Using DEM’s new system, hunters can now report their deer harvest online

PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is asking hunters to take special precautions when hunting deer, elk, and moose (cervids) to keep Rhode Island deer herds free of Chronic Wasting Disease. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CWD has been found in wild deer and elk in 23 states. The disease has not been found in any New England state.

A DEM press release states: A progressive neurological disease that is always fatal to cervids, CWD is readily spread from cervid to cervid and through contact with animal saliva, feces, urine, and carcass parts. There is no cure or vaccine for CWD. DEM’s Division of Fish & Wildlife continues to work proactively to keep this disease out of Rhode Island. Along with annual monitoring efforts on hunter-harvested, road-killed, and reported sick deer, DEM has enacted regulations pertaining to the feeding/baiting, importation, and possession of specific carcass parts and live cervids, particularly from CWD-endemic areas. New this year, DEM has banned the use or possession of deer scents/lures that contain cervid (including deer, moose, elk) urine or any bodily material while taking, attempting to take, attracting, or scouting wildlife. This new regulation is an extra precautionary step to further minimize the potential for CWD to be introduced into Rhode Island.

Although currently there is no evidence that CWD is naturally transmissible to humans, DEM suggests that all hunters follow these simple precautions when hunting:

• Wear rubber gloves when field dressing carcasses.
• Bone out meat from the animal.
• Minimize the handling of brain and spinal cord, eyes, spleen, and lymph nodes; and avoid consuming these tissues.
• Dispose of deer carcasses by double-bagging them and bringing them to a landfill. Do not throw them in the woods.
• Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.
• Report any deer that appear sick, weak, or starving to DEM’s Division of Law Enforcement at 401-222-3070. One of the most important ways of stopping the spread of CWD is early detection. Your reports of potentially sick deer are important to DEM’s disease monitoring efforts

Rhode Island hunters who hunt cervids out-of-state must remove the brain, spinal cord, eyes, lymph nodes, tonsils, and spleen before bringing meat back to Rhode Island. Hunters are reminded to check all the legal requirements of the states and provinces where they hunt or transport deer as they are responsible for following all applicable laws and regulations, including those pertaining to the transport of deer and/or deer parts across state and provincial borders.

Along with other nearby states, Rhode Island continues to ban the importation of deer and elk from elsewhere and prohibits the release into the wild of any captive or wild cervid. Stopping the transport of these deer parts across state and provincial boundaries is a key step in reducing the spread of CWD. For the complete set of rules and regulations governing the importation, feeding and baiting of cervids in Rhode Island, visit .

In March, DEM launched a new online system for hunting licenses. Residents and non-resident customers are now able to purchase hunting, freshwater fishing, recreational saltwater fishing, and combination freshwater fishing and hunting licenses, as well as trout stamps at .

As well, hunters can report their deer harvest online at using their QR reader on their smartphone to scan their permit. Hunters also can report their harvest by calling DEM’s Division of Fish & Wildlife at 401-789-0281 weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Paper reports are no longer being accepted.

Hunter education is offered as part of the DEM Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Hunter Education Program. Safety training is required by law in Rhode Island for beginning hunters. A schedule of hunter educational offerings is available at .