Officials drafting new rules to curb Chronic Wasting Disease

RAPID CITY S.D. – Sweeping changes to hunting laws are in the works to curb the deadly Chronic Wasting Disease.

As the infection continues to spread to game populations in the Black Hills, officials want to stop the disease in its tracks. The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks has given preliminary approval to new rules to stop the spread of the incurable CWD.

“It’s going to [effect] hunters, its going to be taxidermists, its going to be processors,” said Steve Griffin, a big game biologist with GF&P. “Everyone is going to have to sacrifice a little bit to stop the spread of this disease.”

The deadly infection affects deer and elk. It’s caused by prions, which are abnormal proteins that affect brain structure. The disease creates holes in the brain and central nervous system, causing the animal to slowly waste away.

The disease also stunts reproduction. And when you add hunting into the mix, Griffin said that can put a strain on the population.

“Chronic Wasting Disease is suppressing that population,” he said. “You may lose hunting to keep that population at a level to sustain itself.”

To curb the spread of CWD, GF&P plans to ban the transport of CWD meat in and out of the state. The only exception is cut and packaged meat, without the head or spine.

“It’s going to put more restrictions on folks, but in order for us to combat this disease we probably need to do that,” said Griffin.

If hunters do kill an animal with CWD, they have two options. They can keep the animal for taxidermy, or they can return the animal and have their preference points and eligibility re-instated for the next year. They don’t get another tag.

Now, GF&P is looking for public input on the proposed changes. If passed at the board’s September meeting as expected, the new rule would take effect on July 1, 2020.

For more information on the proposed changes, click here. To provide public comment on the changes, visit the Game, Fish and Parks’ website, click on ‘commission’ and then click on ‘Submit a public comment.’

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