Floridahunters planning to hunt deer, moose or elk out of state this year need to be aware of certain laws and regulations aimed at preventing chronic wasting disease (CWD) from entering our state.

CWD is a contagious, neurological disease that has been found in captive and wild cervids (white-tailed deer, mule deer, moose and elk) within 22 states, two Canadian provinces and in South Korea. The disease causes degeneration of the brains of infected animals, resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and death. There is no known evidence that CWD can be transmitted to livestock or humans.

The disease has been detected in New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan, Virginia, Missouri, North Dakota, Maryland and Texas. It has also been detected in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada, and in South Korea.

Hunters need to know that it is against the law to bring into Florida whole carcasses of any cervid from any of the above-listed areas. The purpose of this measure is to prevent CWD from being brought into the state. The infective agent, called a prion, can be accidentally deposited into the environment, where it can persist for years and can infect other deer. Many states have a prohibition similar to Florida’s in place.

It is OK, however, to bring into Florida deboned meat and finished taxidermy mounts, tanned hides, cleaned skulls, antlers and teeth from any of these places, as long as all soft tissue has been removed.

If anyone sees a sickly, extremely skinny deer (see photo at MyFWC.com/CWD), he or she should report its location to the toll-free CWD hotline: 866-293-9282. Hunters who harvest such a deer should not handle it but call the CWD hotline.

For more information about CWD or this rule, visit MyFWC.com/CWD. The website also provides links to wildlife and health agencies with more in-depth information about the disease.