TPWD Reminds Hunters about Proper Deer Carcass Disposal
AUSTIN – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reminds hunters throughout the state to properly dispose of carcasses from harvested deer to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases in deer. It is particularly crucial for those taken inside the Trans-Pecos, South Central, and Panhandle Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Containment and Surveillance Zones.
“Because many hunters process their deer, they are key players in preventing environmental contamination or minimizing the spread of diseases such as CWD,” said Alan Cain, TPWD White-tailed Deer Program Leader. “One possible way that disease can spread is by the transportation and improper disposal of infected carcass parts.”
Deer can become infected with CWD if they come into contact with other infected deer or an environment contaminated with CWD prions. While CWD prions are found ubiquitously throughout the body of an infected deer, they are known to accumulate in the brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, and lymph nodes.
Additionally, hunters cannot take whole deer carcasses, or carcass parts that contain brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, or lymph nodes, out of the CWD Containment and Surveillance Zones or from another state or country that is known to have CWD.
“We recommend hunters in the CWD Containment and Surveillance Zones quarter deer in the field and leave all inedible parts at the site of harvest, or preferably dispose of in a landfill, or bury at the site of harvest if possible,” Cain said. “Proper disposal of carcass parts is good practice anywhere in the state, but especially critical in CWD zones.”
Cain also noted that hunters wishing to take an entire skinned or unskinned deer head to a taxidermist outside a CWD zone or from another CWD positive state or country might do so. However, it must obtain the Deer Head Waiver at any TPWD CWD check station or the TPWD CWD website. You should complete the waiver, and the hunter keeps it with them or with the deer head until it reaches the taxidermist.
Hunters are urged to follow these safe handling recommendations:
Proper Carcass Disposal
- Avoid cutting through bones, spine, or brain when processing deer carcasses.
- If processing harvested deer in camp or at home, place carcass parts in trash bags and properly dispose of them through a trash service or landfill.
Safe Parts to Transport
- Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spine or head attached.
- Any removed tissue from hides or capes.
- Antlers, including antlers attached to skull plates or skulls, cleaned of all muscle and brain tissue.
- All finished taxidermy products.
Carcass movement restrictions do not apply if the carcass is not moved outside of a CWD zone. However, it is always recommended to dispose of unused carcass parts properly.
Hunters who harvest deer and other CWD-susceptible species in the South Central zone during archery season beginning Sept. 28 are required to bring their animals to a TPWD check station within 48 hours of harvest. That is to have tissue samples removed for CWD testing. Hunters will receive a proof-of-sex document at the check station, allowing them to dispose of the head as recommended lawfully. Those hunting in the Trans-Pecos zone during archery season should call (512) 221-8491 and those hunting in the Panhandle zone during archery season should call (806) 420-0439, as check stations in these areas do not open until November.
“Texas Game Wardens will be doing compliance checks to make sure hunters are meeting the requirements in the CWD restricted zones. Also, when bringing the big game from CWD positive states, which includes Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming,” said Region I Texas Game Warden Major Jason Huebner.
Hunters who harvest deer and other CWD-susceptible species during seasons later this fall should also check the Outdoor Annual online or through the mobile app to find check station requirements, dates and hours of operation.
For the latest updates, call (800) 792-1112, or visit the CWD information page. A hunter who harvests a CWD-susceptible species outside a CWD zone and wishes to have the animal tested for CWD should contact a wildlife biologist in that area.
TPWD Taking Public Comment on Proposed Regulation Changes for Trotlines and Other Related Gears
AUSTIN – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is seeking public comment. It is on proposed changes to the regulations on passive fishing gear (jug lines, minnow traps, perch traps, throwlines, and trotlines). It includes adding requirements and specifications for floats and reducing the valid period for gear tags to minimize the negative impacts of abandoned passive fishing gear in Texas public waters.
“Abandoned passive fishing gear is not easily identified and can harm fish and wildlife resources and present a nuisance and safety hazard to recreational users of public water bodies,” said Jarret Barker, TPWD Assistant Commander for Marine Enforcement. “These proposed changes would aid in identifying and monitoring lawful passive fishing gear and help facilitate the removal of abandoned gear.”
The proposed changes would require that passive fishing gear has properly marked gear tags and floats attached to aid in distinguishing active fishing gear from abandoned fishing gear and litter. These changes include adding a customer number from a valid fishing license on the gear tag and marking all passive fishing gear with floats that are at least 6 inches in length and not less than 3 inches in width. Floats for recreational anglers can be any color other than orange. Commercial fishing license holders will be required to use orange-colored floats.
The changes would also reduce the period of validity for a gear tag from 10 days to four days to shorten the fishing time between angler inspections of their gear. Scientific investigations conducted by the department show that fish mortalities as a result of “ghost fishing” (the continuing effect of unattended passive gears) can increase after four days. Such devices can continue to fish and represent a danger to fish and other aquatic organisms when abandoned. Requiring the gear tag and the accompanying gear to be checked more frequently than ten days should reduce those unintended mortalities.
Additionally, the removal of abandoned fishing gear will have the additional benefit of reducing threats to human health and safety.
The proposed regulation changes will be available for review in the Sept. 27 edition of the Texas Register. The public comment period is open through Nov. 7, when the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission will meet to vote on adopting these changes.
Comments on the proposed changes may be submitted to Jarret Barker by phone (512) 389-4853 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments also may be submitted via the department’s website at https://www.tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/public_comment/ or in-person during the TPW Commission meeting Nov. 7 at 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744.