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New York must act to protect wildlife

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has taken a big step in the right direction by issuing an emergency rule that prohibits the import of live cervids (deer and elk) into our state. Trucking these animals from states all over the country into New York greatly increases the chance of spreading disease to our own native wildlife population – particularly Chronic Wasting Disease. CWD is similar to mad-cow disease, but it infects members of the deer and elk family. It has no cure and is always fatal.

CWD has already been found in almost half of the states in this country, including New York, where it was first found on captive deer farms. Although no new cases of CWD have been found in recent years in New York, bringing animals in from other states would greatly increase our risk of exposure.

As a state-licensed wildlife rehabilitator and having family members who hunt, this would affect me and my family. I do not rehabilitate deer, but have aided in the rescue of a few adults and a fawn. My brother and mother hunt and when they take a deer, they keep some venison for themselves and donate the rest to charitable agencies. If said deer are infected with CWD, this could potentially put the people consuming the deer at risk of becoming ill. My brother and mother are just two of nearly 700,000 deer hunters in the state. If the import of live cervids is allowed, the probability of CWD becoming more frequent in our native cervid population is great. In turn, many other wildlife also will be at risk.

Please contact the Department of Agriculture and Markets and support this proposed rule to protect New York’s wildlife.

Christine Hutten

North Tonawanda