The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks is urging hunters to learn and practice proper CWD precautions when handling deer after harvest, especially in CWD Management Zones.
“Actually, these precautions are really common-sense handling practices that all hunters should use anywhere,” said Billy Jenkins of Jackson, an avid hunter and former butcher at a deer-processing plant. “I worked at a big processor for five years, and you wouldn’t believe how sorry some of the meat had been handled before it was brought to us.
“We had to toss some, but there were a lot of others that were edible that I wouldn’t have eaten and wouldn’t have touched if I wasn’t being paid. It’s one of the reasons I quit. It was that bad.”
The MDWFP said hunters should do the following at the very least:
- Inspect body condition of each deer at the time of harvest. Do not consume any part of animals exhibiting disease, especially the clinical symptoms of CWD that includes extreme weight loss, excessive salivation, and/or erratic behavior.
- Wear rubber or latex gloves when handling deer carcasses.
- When field dressing an animal, leave internal organs and inedible parts at the site of harvest.
- Avoid sawing through bone, spinal cord, brain, lymph nodes or spleen.
- Store all portions of the animal to be transported in a container such as a cooler, bin or bag that will not leak bodily fluids into the environment.
- Do not process a deer that appears to be diseased.
- Process all deer individually, package separately and label uniquely.
- Debone meat from deer and remove all fat, connective tissue and lymph nodes.
- Avoid eating or handling the eyes, brain, spinal cord, spleen and lymph nodes.
- Limit the amount of bodily fluids going to an area, such as a floor drain that cannot be properly sanitized after use.
- Clean processing equipment between each deer.
- Thoroughly sanitize all equipment with a 50/50 solution of bleach and water. Soak tools for one hour in the bleach solution and then rinse thoroughly with hot water.
- Deer parts should never be rendered for use in feed for other animals or used as compost.
- Deer remains should be left at harvest site, but remains of animals processed elsewhere should be double-bagged and sent to an approved, lined landfill or buried at least 8 feet or deeper.