NC Senate bill takes aim at hunters in effort to protect deer population

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — Deer hunting season may have just ended, but lawmakers in Raleigh are getting a head start for next season with a bill in the North Carolina Senate.

The reason for the bill begins with an extremely contagious illness called Chronic Wasting Disease.  Experts say CWD is a deadly disease that affects deer, elk, moose, and more.

Lawmakers in the North Carolina Senate are bringing Senate Bill 66 to the floor next week, which would make it illegal for hunters to use deer excretions that have not been tested for the disease.

Jon Shaw, a deer biologist for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission said this disease is the sole reason for S.B. 66.

“The end goal in both the bill and in the rule that the Commission had passed is to minimize the risk of Chronic Wasting Disease entering into North Carolina, and we’ve taken just about every measure that we possibly can do that,” Shaw said.

Now in terms of the disease itself, Shaw says it is not only wildly contagious, it is also very deadly and leads to a terrible life for the deer who are infected.

“The disease itself potentially could drive our deer populations down to very low densities. And there are some models that suggests that over a period of decades that they could locally eradicate deer in some places.”

Normally, CWD is transmitted when deer who are infected urinate or defecate on plants, then other deer eat those plants and get infected themselves, but it also spreads when hunters use urine or feces that is infected with CWD.   

Senate Bill 66 would essentially require companies that distribute deer excretion, to test the urine and feces before distributing them into the market. So rather than limiting hunters it would at worst raise the price for the excretions.

Rick Moody, an avid hunter in North Carolina, says the only negative affect this bill could have on hunters is driving the price up of deer secretion because companies who sell it will have to do additional testing on their products.

“It’ll have to go up a few dollars a bottle, just to be able to cover the cost of that, but as a hunter, I’m willing to pay that little bit extra just to keep the disease out of state,” he said.

Although Shaw said there are no know cases of humans contracting CWD, the Centers for Disease Control recommends humans do not consume meat from deer that have been infected.

“If we had our first human case of CWD in humans, that would, you know, hurt our hunters ability to consume venison, which is a big reason why a lot of people like to hunt and that would in turn hurt our ability to manage deer herds,” Shaw said.

The legislation comes to the Senate floor next week and if passed, all deer secretion will need to be tested for CWD before being used in next year’s hunting season.

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