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Doug Leier: Taking a closer look at North Dakota chronic wasting disease regulations

Hunters are encouraged to plan accordingly and be prepared to quarter a carcass, cape out an animal or clean a skull in the field, or find a taxidermist or meat locker within the unit or state who can assist.

White-tailed deer
Whether hunting with a bow, muzzleloader or rifle, rules and regulations for transportation of carcass and carcass parts into and within North Dakota are a precaution against the possible spread of chronic wasting disease.
Contributed/North Dakota Game and Fish Department
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Doug Leier is an outreach biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Reach him at dleier@nd.gov.

WEST FARGO – I played a part on the Game and Fish Department’s chronic wasting disease task force, and out of everything I learned, what stuck with me most is how much I’d forgotten. Which is why review of rules, regulations and restrictions is so important for all of us.

North Dakota’s archery deer season opened in early September, and with the growing interest in bowhunting for all big game, reviewing some of the specific transportation rules and regulations is necessary.

Yet, whether you’re hunting with a bow, muzzleloader or rifle, rules and regulations for transportation of carcass and carcass parts into and within North Dakota are a precaution against the possible spread of chronic wasting disease. A fatal disease of deer, moose and elk, CWD can cause long-term population declines if left unchecked.

Hunters are prohibited from transporting into or within North Dakota the whole carcass of deer, elk, moose or other members of the cervid family harvested outside of North Dakota.

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Hunters are surveyed about their hunting activity because understanding how many animals were removed from the population is an important ecological piece of information.

In addition, hunters harvesting a white-tailed deer or mule deer from deer hunting units 3A1, 3A2, 3B1, 3C, 3D1, 3E2, 3F2, 4B and 4C, a moose from moose hunting units M10 and M11, or an elk from elk hunting units E2 and E6, cannot transport the whole carcass outside the unit. However, hunters can transport the whole carcass between adjoining CWD carcass-restricted units.

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North Dakota Game and Fish Department district game wardens will be enforcing all CWD transportation laws.

Hunters are encouraged to plan accordingly and be prepared to quarter a carcass, cape out an animal or clean a skull in the field, or find a taxidermist or meat locker within the unit or state who can assist.

Game and Fish maintains several freezers throughout the region for submitting heads for CWD testing.

For questions about how to comply with this regulation, hunters should contact a district game warden or other department staff ahead of the planned hunt.

The following lower-risk portions of the carcass can be transported:

  • Meat boned out.
  • Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached.
  • Meat cut and wrapped either commercially or privately.
  • Hides with no heads attached.
  • Skull plates with antlers attached and no hide or brain tissue present.
  • Intact skulls with no visible brain or spinal cord tissue present that has the eyes, lower jaw, tongue, salivary glands, tonsils and lymph nodes removed. 
  • Antlers separated from the skull plate.
  • Upper canine teeth, also known as buglers, whistlers or ivories.
  • Finished taxidermy heads.
  • Lymph nodes extracted from the head for CWD testing that are contained within a sealed, plastic bag.

Deer hunters should note there is an exception to the regulation that reads, “a deer carcass or boned-out meat must be accompanied by the head to the final place of storage.”

The exception is, tag the deer as required, then take two photographs using a cellphone with location, date and time stamp turned on. One photograph of the entire animal at the kill site with tag attached, and a second photograph of a closeup of the tag so that the tag information is readable. If a hunter leaves the head in the field at the kill site, after taking photos and saving them, the ear or antler with the tag attached must be cut off and accompany the meat or carcass while in transport. The photographs of the tagged deer must be shown to any game warden or other law enforcement officer upon request.

Hunting big game over bait

It is unlawful to hunt big game over bait, or place bait to attract big game for the purpose of hunting, in deer units 1, 2B, 3A1, 3A2, 3A3, 3A4, 3B1, 3C, 3D1, 3D2, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1, 3F2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 4F.

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North Dakota deer gun hunting units.
Contributed / North Dakota Game and Fish Department

Like the transport rules, the restriction is in place to help slow the spread of CWD.

In addition, hunting big game over bait or baiting for any purpose is prohibited on all Game and Fish Department wildlife management areas. Hunting big game over bait is also prohibited on all U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national wildlife refuges and waterfowl production areas, U.S. Forest Service national grasslands, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-managed lands, and all North Dakota state trust, state park and state forest service lands.

More information on CWD can be found on the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.

Doug Leier is an outreach biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Reach him at dleier@nd.gov.
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