BOZEMAN — Wildlife officials in Montana have approved new restrictions limiting the transportation of deer, elk and moose carcasses statewide to help prevent the additional spread of chronic wasting disease.
The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to approve the restrictions, which require all hunters to either leave the spinal column and head of their hunted animals at the site or dispose of the parts at a sanctioned landfill, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported.
Previously, the rule limited carcass disposal in chronic wasting disease-positive management zones. Now it applies to the entire state.
Chronic wasting disease is a fatal disease that causes organ damage in hoofed mammals, and is spread through direct contact between animals. The disease was first detected in Montana in 2017, but it has since spread multiple areas across the state.
Brian Wakeling, the game management bureau chief for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said the department recommended the rule to the commission to prevent people from dumping carcasses in other parts of the state where chronic wasting disease is not present.
Wakeling said landfills approved for disposal include “virtually any commercial facility that collects trash.”
Department criteria is met so long as the ungulate parts of the animals end up in landfills, officials said. Carcasses can still be taken to be processed.
Commission Chair Pat Tabor said he wants people to abide by the rules, but he doesn’t want to inadvertently discourage people from processing game using normal procedures. The commission is now working with the department to finalize the language.
Montana Wildlife Federation conservation director Nick Gevock said his organization supports the rule and thanked commissioners for rewording it.
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