Kentucky hunters face new restrictions after wasting disease is found in Tennessee deer

White-tailed deer in Eastern Kentucky
White-tailed deer in Eastern Kentucky Herald-Leader file photo

In an attempt to stave off a wasting disease that is affecting deer and elk in much of the rest of the country, state officials on Saturday said they are implementing new restrictions on deer brought in from Tennessee.

“Effective immediately, hunters are prohibited from bringing any deer from Tennessee into Kentucky unless the brain and spinal column have been removed first,” the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources said in a news release.

The department said the decision was made because preliminary testing showed chronic wasting disease in 10 white-tailed deer in Tennessee.

While surrounding states including West Virginia, Virginia, Illinois and Missouri have had cases of CWD confirmed in their deer or elk populations, Kentucky has not.

Wildlife officials said the disease spreads through the natural movement of infected animals, but it can also be transmitted when infected carcasses are brought into an area.

They said hunters may bring to Kentucky “quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached, boned-out meat, antlers, antlers attached to a clean skull plate, a clean skull, clean teeth, hides and finished taxidermy works.”

Chronic wasting disease is a progressive neurological disease that causes weight loss, behavioral changes and eventually death in white-tailed deer, elk and other members of the deer family.

There is no evidence to suggest that the disease can be transmitted to people or livestock.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said Friday that the 10 infected deer were found in two counties in western Tennessee that border Mississippi.