States place ban on live animals, not meat

Texas, Michigan say Wisconsin case, not Colorado, reason behind prohibition of live big game

Despite new restrictions by several states prohibiting the importation of live big game, no states have put restrictions on bringing home meat from animals killed in other states, including Colorado.

Some states have recently put restrictions on interstate transporting of live animals due to a fear of chronic wasting disease, a neurological disease found in deer and elk that eventually leads to death.

A few of those states include Texas, Michigan, Maine, Minnesota and Missouri.

Representatives from Michigan and Texas said their state's decisions were made before the recent discovery of chronic wasting disease in four wild mule deer near Motherwell Ranch south of Hayden.

Their decision was made because of a discovery of the disease in Wisconsin.

"There were a number of states who, long before this, would not allow the importation of live animals," said Jerry Cooke, the Game Branch chief of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. "Many states have made the decision since the Wisconsin outbreak."

That's why Texas did it, Cooke said.

"The first I heard about it was March 4," he said. "That's when our commission had an emergency meeting, which we've never done before. Most people thought it was a stupid idea to be transporting live animals anyway."

Cooke said Texas would not block the importation of dead animals, especially from Colorado.

"There's not going to be any action along those lines from us," he said. "It would shock me if that was done. A lot of people in our department hunt in Colorado and we will continue to do so. From my perspective it would be a surprise if hunters were prevented from bringing home an animal they killed in Colorado."

Sara Linsmeier, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Agriculture, said Michigan has not put any restrictions on the transportation of dead animals from other states, but said it is an option that could be considered in the future.

"We do not have a ban on any meat products from other states," she said. "It's one thing we're looking into a little bit because of the uncertainty of the disease."

The rule for Michigan on the transportation of live animals, Linsmeier said, is no animals can be transported into the state from any county or neighboring county where the disease has been detected.

Dawn Taylor, spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, said Colorado has similar rules in place.

"Any domestic deer and elk imported into Colorado had to come from a farm that was CWD free for at least 60 months," she said.

Cathy Vanatta, executive director of the Craig Chamber of Commerce, said that is good news.

"If hunters were not allowed to bring their meat home from Colorado it would be very devastating to our area because a large majority of people who hunt in this area come from other states," she said.

Vanatta said even though there are no restrictions on the transportation of meat, it is still important that Northwest Colorado have a testing facility in place so hunters can know before they leave with their kill that it is not infected with the disease.

"We need to make sure we have a testing facility so people can have confidence when they come here to hunt," she said. "We need to have some way of assuring them that the meat they're taking home is negative."

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