Modern gun seasons for deer in surrounding states open as soon as this weekend. It’s a good time for big game hunters traveling outside of Kentucky to review the rules on bringing their harvests home.
Kentucky prohibits anyone from bringing whole carcasses of deer or elk into Kentucky from another state. This also applies to other big game, such as caribou or moose. Hunters may transport deer and elk carcasses taken in Kentucky anywhere in the state.
The ban is just one way the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is working to protect the Commonwealth’s deer and elk herds from chronic wasting disease (CWD).
The always-fatal neurological disease affects deer, elk, moose and caribou. It has not been detected in Kentucky. The movement of deer is a primary reason for the spread of CWD. An infected deer or elk can transmit the disease whether it is alive or dead.
Motorists who personally witness a vehicle with a whole big game carcass crossing the state line into Kentucky should report it immediately by calling 1-800-25-ALERT (1-800-252-5378).
Another reporting option is a new online app recently launched by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. The free KFWLaw app lets people report violations anonymously. It can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store. Links to the stores also are posted on the department’s website at fw.ky.gov/enforcement.
Hunters can bring their big game harvests back to Kentucky if they prepare them properly.
Deer carcasses cut into quarters are allowed as long as the head and spine are left behind. These are parts of the body that harbor CWD. Hunters may still bring in the animal’s antlers if they are attached to a clean skull plate rather than the intact head. Clean animal teeth, hides and finished taxidermy products can be brought back into the state.
Deboning the meat for travel is the best option, however, and can further reduce the chances of spreading CWD. Hunters can do this in the field or arrange for a processor to do the work.
Hunters wishing to bring back antlers from their harvests can line up a taxidermist in the state they are hunting to cape out the animal and remove its skullcap to prepare it for mounting, or simply do it on their own.
Chronic wasting disease has spread to nearly every state surrounding Kentucky. The disease has not been detected in Kentucky. This neurological disease may infect an animal for years before it shows symptoms.
With no known cure for this disease, the best way to combat it is to stop its spread into Kentucky.
For more information about CWD and the steps Kentucky is taking to prevent its introduction, go online to fw.ky.gov/cwd. For more information regarding regulations on transportation of harvested deer into the state, see the 2019 Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide. These are available wherever hunting licenses are sold, or viewable online at fw.ky.gov.