South Carolinians planning out-of-state trips to hunt big game this winter will be a bit more limited on where they can return with a potential harvest.
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on Thursday reminded hunters traveling out-of-state they cannot bring back certain deer and elk carcass parts harvested from areas where confirmed cases of chronic wasting (CWD) disease have occurred.
The disease was confirmed in Tennessee for the first time this week.
CWD has been diagnosed in 26 states, including Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.
The disease has also been found in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
CWD is similar to mad cow disease. It attacks the central nervous system of deer or elk and presents symptoms that include extreme weight loss, excessive salivation, odd behavior, and poor coordination.
The disease is infectious among antlered mammals, communicable and always fatal. A large stumbling block for wildlife professionals attempting to understand how the disease is transmitted is that CWD has a prolonged incubation period of up to two years, and no approved test exists to detect the disease in live animals; diagnosis requires examination of the brain.
Although wildlife health officials are conducting considerable research, the overall biological and epidemiological understanding of CWD remains poor.