The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at its Pensacola commission meeting today, Sept. 6, passed a rule prohibiting the importation of live captive deer into Florida from out-of-state sources.
The rule was passed in an effort to reduce the chances of chronic wasting disease (CWD) being introduced into the state. Eighteen other states, including Georgia and Alabama, also prohibit the importation of live cervids (deer, elk and moose).
CWD is not known to affect people but is a contagious neurological disease affecting cervids. It is always fatal, and there is no known cure or vaccine. So far, the disease has been discovered in 22 states, two Canadian provinces and in South Korea.
To implement the decision immediately, the FWC also issued an executive order prohibiting importation of cervids effective today, Sept. 6, 2013. The order includes limited exemptions for reindeer and zoos.
The Commission also directed the executive director to create a working group to include the industry to develop other measures to safeguard the state from CWD. If these other measures are determined to be sufficient to adequately reduce risk, the Commission gives the executive director authority to then allow importation.
Since the beginning of May, the FWC has received much public comment on this and answered questions and concerns. During this process, those who have deer farms and hunting preserves, hunters and conservationists provided suggestions for additional prevention measures to consider. The Commission used this important feedback to guide its decision-making.
For more information on chronic wasting disease, this rule and the CWD Alliance, go to MyFWC.com/CWD. To see the executive order, go to MyFWC.com/About and select “Inside FWC” then “Executive Director.”