The approach of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays usually means travel for the hunting families among us, and those trips bring new rules for bringing deer and other hooved trophies back to Louisiana.

Last year, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries asked the state commission to approve — and it did — new regulations covering what state biologists and the LDWF veterinarian staff labeled the “importation of cervid carcasses.”

While the rule was effective March 1, the full impact will be felt during the current hunting season.

These regulations are designed to prevent bringing in the dreaded chronic wasting disease into the state.

According to the LDWF vet staff, CWD is a “neurodegenerative disease found in most deer species, including moose, elk and mule deer as well as whitetail deer. It is infectious and always fatal.” CWD is similar to mad cow disease in that it creates holes in the brains of infected animals.

The disease is spread either by direct animal-to-animal contact or by healthy animals contacting urine, feces, saliva, or both. It can also spread after the infected animal dies, then decomposes and transfers the infection in the soil.

A further problem, wildlife biologists cite, is that infected animals can spread CWD before showing symptoms, which, they say, “can take one to two years for infected animals to become symptomatic.” Symptoms can include loss of body weight, lethargy, abnormal behavior and loss of bodily functions, and also can be noticed excessive salivation, thirst, urination, drooping ears and teeth grinding.

Noted here is that the term “cervid” covers a ban on — and the new rules adds “but not limited to” — whitetail, mule, fallow, axis, sika and red deer, elk, moose, caribou and reindeer.

Because CWD has been found in Texas and Arkansas among 24 states and two provinces in Canada, here’s what you can and can’t do after your our-of-state hunting trip:

You can’t:

  • Import, transport or possess any cervid carcass or part of a cervid carcass originating outside of Louisiana.

And you can:

  • Bring back cut and wrapped (or unwrapped) meat, but only if the meat has had bones removed;
  • Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached;
  • Antlers, clean skull plates with antlers, cleaned skulls without tissue attached;
  • Capes, tanned hides, finished taxidermy mounts and cleaned cervid teeth.
  • And you must:
  • Properly tag the meat and other parts with the hunter’s name, out-of-state license number (if required by the state where the animals was taken), address, species, date and location (county/state) of your hunt.

The new regs also give hunters an “out,” in that if you return with bones, that “any and all bones shall be disposed of in a manner where its final destination is at an approved landfill.”

Louisiana is late comer into this action: some 41 states have rules covering bringing meat and other body parts of these animals into their states, and the state’s new rules are designed to reduce the introduction of CWD into the state.

For hunters, it’s also good to know the Center for Disease Control has issued an advisory noting no evidence of CWD infecting humans, but the CDC strongly recommends caution when handling meat from animals taken in areas where CWD has been found and urges hunters in those areas to have their kills tested for CWD before eating them. Best word here involves submitting the animal’s brain for testing.

There are a couple of website you can visit.

For the LDWF’s video on proper caping of trophy deer and CWD:

For a map of state regulations:

The Gun Bash

The annual dinner and gun raffle of South Louisiana Branch, Quality Deer Management Association comes at 6 p.m. Thursday at the 4H Mini Farm on AgCenter Drive on LSU’s Baton Rouge campus.

The $100 single ticket gets entry into this “Gun Bash” and always enjoyable 7:30 p.m. supper. There might be a couple of $800 tables-for-eight remaining.

Call Bill Shockey at (225) 291-7500 for details and to reserve a spot.