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Cervids ( Deer and Elk) Importation Embargo Emergency Rule
01-01 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, FOOD & RURAL RESOURCES
Chapter 221: Cervids Importation Embargo
Summary: This emergency rule imposes an immediate embargo on the importation of all cervids into the State of Maine.
Prohibition on the Importation of all Cervids.
2 The importation of all cervids Maine from any state or country is hereby prohibited until further notice.
3. Any person importing cervids into the State of Maine in violation of this prohibition shall be guilty of a Class E crime in accordance with 7 M.R.S.A. §1706.
Statutory Authority: 7 M.R.S.A. §1753
Effective Date: Immediately upon filing with the Secretary of State.
Chronic Wasting Disease is an infectious, neurological disease that naturally occurs in North American deer and Rocky Mountain elk and belongs to the group of infectious disease known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. Chronic Wasting Disease is a progressively fatal disease with no known immunity, vaccine, or treatment.
Chronic Wasting Disease has not been detected in captive or free-ranging cervids in Maine. However, CWD infections of captive elk in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Montana, South Dakota and Saskatchewan have been reported. Furthermore, infections of free-ranging mule deer, white-tailed deer and/or elk have been documented in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Saskatchewan.
Several aspects of CWD (including long incubation period and lack of a live animal diagnostic test) and the human market for captive cervids (involving intrastate and interstate movement of these animals) are contributing to the potential risk of introducing and spreading this disease and to the difficulties associated with managing it. Strict safeguards and improved surveillance are the most effective means of preventing the introduction and establishment of the disease in Maine.
Management guidelines and strategies currently employed by various state and federal natural resources and agricultural agencies vary widely and are changing rapidly. Management of the disease is complicated because much of the disease is unknown or poorly misunderstood. The US Department of Agriculture is currently drafting a Chronic Wasting Disease rule to provide consistent protocol for state adoption. This comprehensive rule will establish guidelines for monitoring, surveillance, testing, importation requirements (permitting, health certificates and animal identification), and management provisions for captive herds. The rule is expected to be adopted within the next several months.
We intend to develop an importation rule consistent with the USDA rule. It is imperative that we coordinate our monitoring, surveillance, and testing with the USDA. The USDA requires that all testing be conducted through their National Veterinary Services Laboratory. The USDA will also pay for the testing. In addition, we intend to spend the next few months developing a coordinated regional approach to the interstate movement of cervids with representatives from wildlife agencies, industry, state and federal governments.
There are 97 licensed cervids farms in Maine with a total estimated population of between 6000 – 8000. On an annual basis nearly 800 – 1,000 deer are imported from other states and Canada. These facilities are inspected annually by the Department. Weaknesses in procedures, statutes and rules governing the importation and management have been identified and will be changed over the course of this embargo period.
Having found that Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) poses an imminent harm to the health and welfare of our domesticated cervids population and our wildlife population, and given that the long incubation period of the disease and the lack of a live animal diagnostic test to determine its presence make inspection and/or quarantine of any cervids being brought into the State impractical and ineffective for the purpose of controlling or preventing the introduction of the disease into Maine’s wild and domestic populations, the Department of Agriculture, Food & Rural Resources adopts this emergency rule.
The Department of Agriculture, Food & Rural Resources is suspending the importation of cervids into Maine from any state or country during the effective period of this emergency rule. Only cervids imported from any state or Canada for immediate (within 24 hours) slaughter will be permitted. This action is taken in view of chronic wasting disease, a fatal brain wasting disease that has been detected in eight (8) states. This action is initiated to prevent the potential introduction of chronic wasting diseased into Maine’s domesticated and wild population.
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