Deadly Deer Disease Prompts Changes To Arkansas Meat Transporting Rules

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KFSM) -- A deadly disease that infects deer and elk has prompted the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission to make changes to its meat transportation regulations.

AGFC first reported the arrival of Chronic Wasting Disease in Arkansas in February 2016 after the disease had been found in an elk harvested in October 2015.

The changes affect hunters in ten counties that are included in the CWD Management Zone: Boone, Carroll, Johnson, Logan, Madison, Marion, Newton, Pope, Searcy and Yell.

cwd-managment-zoneBrad Corbitt, who is the events coordinator for Buckmasters of Northwest Arkansas, which is a nonprofit organization that takes ill children and veterans on hunting trips, said some hunters have concerns about the new regulations imposed in the CWD Management Zone, particularly a new rule that bans the transportation of deer meat that has not been deboned out of the zone.

Corbitt said the new rules could be particularly inconvenient for hunters who live outside the management zone, but hunt inside it. That means hunters from Benton and Washington Counties, who hunt in Madison County will not be able to bring any deer meat home until they debone it.

"Most people will have to process their own deer and debone it and take the meat home, leave the carcass, the bones and the skull where you kill the deer," Corbitt said. "It just takes more time and more effort."

AGFC is hoping hunters will thin out the herd, which should keep CWD from spreading more than it otherwise would, but Corbitt said the new meat transportation rules may not encourage that.

"People will have to do a little bit more work, which means, in my opinion, there will be less deer taken in that area," he said.

AGFC has also made some other regulation changes in the CWD Management Zone to work on thinning out the herd. The changes in Zones 1 and 2 of the management zone include:

  • bag limit has been increase from four to five deer (two antlered bucks, three antlerless with firearms, five antlerless with archery)
  • any buck may be legally harvested; three-point rules has been removed
  • button bucks no longer count toward a hunter's two-buck seasonal bag limit, they must be checked as button bucks, but will count toward antlerless limits

For a complete list of the new regulations, click here.