As the roar starts, hunters need to keep it clean

Mar 14, 2024

As the roar starts and trophy hunters are arriving in New Zealand, it’s a good time to remind them about cleaning equipment to avoid bringing in unwanted guests with them.

Don't put New Zealand’s deer industry at risk. Photo: Gail Simons.

Recent media coverage here has focused attention on the continuing North American Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) outbreak, one of a number of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). This has been present in that continent’s wild deer populations for many years and also recently in Norway. South Korea saw an isolated outbreak that started with an imported animal.

“New Zealand has never had a case of the disease. There is no evidence CWD can be transmitted to humans and, to date, there have been no reported cases of humans anywhere in the world becoming infected after eating infected deer meat,” explains DINZ policy and research manager Emil Murphy.

“However, we need to keep vigilant to make sure it stays that way as it would have a severe impact on our industry,” he says.

DINZ continually monitors the CWD situation and works closely with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). Both have signed an agreement for working together in the event of an outbreak here.

“This ensures we are well placed to respond and can limit the potential impact from finding CWD,” says Murphy. He is also following work in the CWD programme at Minnesota University’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy which will be applicable to farmed deer, as well as the wild deer on which the programme is mainly focused.

MPI’s import rules minimise the chance of CWD and other undesirable organisms ever reaching these shores. These include only permitting import of deer semen and embryos from CWD-free countries of Australia and the UK; legally prohibiting the use of deer urine lures used in hunting; and limiting imports of deer/elk velvet to a small number of countries.

Most importantly, international hunters and trampers coming through New Zealand customs with hunting equipment must declare their equipment and trophies/skins and have thoroughly clean tramping, hunting and camping equipment, including footwear.

Read more in the ‘Exotic Diseases: take the risk seriously’ Deer Fact. The Department of Conservation has also published information online for hunters and trampers entering New Zealand from overseas.


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