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TPWD Reminds Hunters about Proper Deer Carcass Disposal

Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov

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AUSTIN – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reminds hunters throughout the state to properly dispose of carcasses from harvested deer to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases in deer. This is particularly important for harvested mule deer taken inside the Chronic Wasting Disease Containment Zone, which covers portions of Hudspeth and El Paso counties, and the surrounding High Risk Zone.

“Because many hunters process their own deer, they are key players in slowing the spread of diseases such as CWD,” said Ryan Schoeneberg, Big Game Program Specialist with TPWD. “One possible way that disease can spread is by the transportation and improper disposal of carcass parts.”

Deer can become infected with CWD if they come into contact with other infected deer or an environment contaminated with CWD prions. While CWD prions are found ubiquitously throughout the body of an infected deer, they are known to accumulate in the brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, and lymph nodes.

CWD was first found in Texas in Hudspeth and El Paso counties two years ago and the disease appears to be limited to those remote areas thanks in large part to hunter diligence, restricting unnatural movement of deer, and ongoing measures to monitor and sample for evidence of the disease.

Hunters who harvest deer in the Containment Zone are required to present the unfrozen head of the deer to a designated check station within 24 hours of take in order to have tissue samples removed for CWD testing. Additionally, hunters in this area should not take whole deer carcasses out of the Containment Zone, or carcass parts that contain brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, or lymph nodes, according to Shawn Gray, mule deer program leader for TPWD. “We recommend hunters in the Containment Zone and High Risk Zone quarter deer in the field and leave all but the quarters, backstraps and head at the site of harvest, if it is not possible to bury the inedible carcass parts on the ranch or take them to a landfill.”

Hunters are urged to follow these safe handling recommendations:

Proper Carcass Disposal

  • Avoid cutting through bones, spine, or brain when processing deer carcasses.
  • If processing harvested deer in camp or at home, place carcass parts in trash bags and properly dispose of them through a trash service or landfill.
  • For taxidermy work, use a licensed taxidermist to assure proper carcass disposal.

Safe Parts to Transport

  • Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spine or head attached,
  • Hides or capes from which all excess tissue has been removed,
  • Antlers, including antlers attached to skull plates or skulls cleaned of all muscle and brain tissue.

For more information visit: http://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/diseases/cwd/