HomeOutdoorsFlorida Considering Harsher Restrictions on Deer Harvesting to Prevent Spread of CWD

Florida Considering Harsher Restrictions on Deer Harvesting to Prevent Spread of CWD

by Jennifer Shea
Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is looking to protect Florida deer from Chronic Wasting Disease. And to that end, it wants to ban bringing deer carcasses from Georgia and Alabama into Florida. 

Florida Wants to End Exception

Florida already banned bringing deer carcasses into Florida from other states. But it had granted an exception for Georgia and Alabama. No more, the commission says, according to WUSF.

CWD has yet to be found in Florida deer. But wildlife officials want to head off that possibility.

The disease first showed up among deer in Colorado in 1967. Since then, it has hit 25 other states. It spreads quickly from deer to deer, and it can even infect a new deer from contact with dirt that an infected deer’s body previously touched.

The new rule would allow deer caught along state lines to be brought into Florida. Deboned meat is also permitted. So are finished taxidermies, and skulls, skull caps and teeth with the flesh removed.

Hunters Say Rule Will Hurt Businesses

Still, Florida hunters say the change will hurt Florida businesses.

“If this rule goes through, my understanding is now Georgia—their local economy is going to get all of my deer,” hunter Chris Berry told WUSF. “Because I’m going to have to drop it to their local taxidermist. And I bring typically, actually for the last four years, two bucks a year to my taxidermist down here in Levy County to do my deer. So, it’s going to affect that local person. I think probably three-quarters of her deer [are] from out of state.”

Wildlife officials counter that it’s worth it. CWD is ugly and it spreads fast, they warn.

“It is not pretty,” said Newton Cook, who serves on the FWC Deer Management Technical Advisory Group. “[The deer] just literally waste away, horrible looking, skin, and bones, and stumbling. It’s not an easy way to go.”

The new rule’s supporters insist this is the best way to protect Florida deer. Once the disease crosses state lines, they argue, it will be too late.