It was a packed room at the Springdale City Council Chambers Wednesday (Sept. 25) as legislators, meat processors and taxidermists tried to persuade the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to change a ban that prevents out-of-state deer and elk carcasses from being brought into Arkansas.
“A lot of our processors in Crawford County, Sebastian County, 30 percent or half their business comes from Oklahoma,” said Charlotte Douglas, State Representative for District 75.
“Three plants within Crawford and Sebastian County, we figured that`s about $450,000 of revenue between taxidermy and processing,” added Roger Key, Owner of Garner Abattoir Meat Processing and Taxidermy in Van Buren.
The ban initially put in place in 2005 preventing people from bringing in carcasses that tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
Now, it applies to all states.
“What it does is it degenerates the brain and the nervous system, so it has the same effects that mad cow disease has in cows, they waste away,” said Ralph Meeker, Assistant Deer Program Coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
One thing everybody agreed on in the meeting was having a healthy deer and elk herds.
meat processors and taxidermists dispose of bones and in a controlled environment and said they fear if they turn away out of state deer then people would dispose of them in the wrong manner.
“Only real risk material that they are concerned with is going to a controlled environment, if they don`t and we turn those customers away they’re going to stick in the bed of the truck and the first county road they get too, they`re going to chuck it,” said Key.
Key is encouraging people to contact their State Representative and Senators about the issue.
Meeker said there are new guidelines for people bringing deer and elk into the state.
“They have to remove all bones in their meat so they can still bring the meat back, bring their antlers back they can still bring the skull platelets back, but the skull plate has to be clean,” said Meeker.
For more information on regulations on how to prevent CWD from spreading visit the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission website.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said there is no evidence that the disease is transmissible to humans.
Bow season begins this Saturday (Sept. 28). According to Arkansas Game and Fish Commission deer hunting brings in $370 million in retail sales to the state.