Big Game Transport Regulations to Prevent Spread of Chronic Wasting Disease

September 25, 2013 by  

by Doug Leier

With all the archery deer hunting activity and the coming spike with deer gun season, it’s a good time to remind hunters of specific regulations on transporting deer and other big game.

Keep in mind, these are specific to North Dakota and with the mobility of hunters taking the fields in other states, you need to check closely in all states in which you hunt or travel through on your way to and from destinations.

Game Transport

Preventing the spread of chronic wasting disease is a challenge similar to preventing the spread of aquatic nuisance species.

When we refer to big game and the regulations about transporting big game, we’re including all deer, elk and moose carcasses and carcass parts. The regulations are needed as a precaution against the possible spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and other known and even unknown potential issues.

Due to confirmed cases of CWD in deer in unit 3F2 in North Dakota, hunters harvesting a big game animal in unit 3F2 this fall cannot transport a carcass including the head and spinal column outside of the unit, unless it’s taken directly to a meat processor.

The head can be removed from the carcass and transported outside of the unit to submit it to a State Game and Fish Department district office, CWD surveillance drop-off location, or a licensed taxidermist. If the deer is processed in the field to boned meat, and the hunter wants to leave the head in the field, the head must be legally tagged and the hunter must be able to return to, or give the exact location of the head if requested for verification.

In an effort to further reduce the risk of CWD spreading to new area, Game and Fish has prohibited hunting big game over bait in all of deer units 3E1, 3E2, 3F1 and 3F2; and also the portion of unit 3C west of the Missouri River.

Hunters who go out of state are prohibited from transporting back into North Dakota the whole carcass, or certain carcass parts, of deer, elk, moose or other members of the cervid family from areas within states and provinces with documented occurrences of CWD in wild populations, or from farmed cervid operations within states and provinces that have had farmed cervids diagnosed with CWD. Only the following portions of the carcass can be transported:

  • Meat that is cut and wrapped either commercially or privately.
  • Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached.
  • Meat that has been boned out.
  • Hides with no heads attached.
  • Clean (no meat or tissue attached) skull plates with antlers attached.
  • Antlers with no meat or tissue attached.
  • Upper canine teeth, also known as buglers, whistlers or ivories.
  • Finished taxidermy heads.

Anyone who has questions should refer 2013-14 CWD proclamation on the Game and Fish Department’s website, for game management units, equivalent wildlife management units, or counties in other states that have had free-ranging deer, moose or elk diagnosed with CWD.

Import of harvested elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer or moose from listed areas is restricted.

Preventing the spread of CWD is a challenge similar to preventing the spread of Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS). While it can happen naturally, we can minimize our contribution by following rules and regulations.

For many years North Dakota had no incidences of CWD, and now that it’s here in an isolated area, we’d like to keep it that way.


Leier is a biologist with the Game and Fish Department. He can be reached by email: [email protected]




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