The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has, as of April 29, adopted a final rule on the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Herd Certification Program and interstate movement of farmed or captive deer, elk, and moose. The final rule includes two changes from the interim final rule that had been in place since June 2012.

The interim final rule specifically requested comment on APHIS policy that federal CWD regulations set minimum requirements for the interstate movement of farmed or captive deer, elk, and moose but would not preempt State or local laws or regulations that are more restrictive than our regulations. This document responds to comments we received on that policy.

In adopting the final rule, APHIS decided to allow State and local laws and regulations with respect to CWD to be more restrictive than federal regulations. The agency cites several reasons, mostly relating to a general lack of scientific understanding of CWD and how it is transmitted among wild or captive cervid populations.

CWD is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy of cervids (members of Cervidae, the deer family). While it has only been found in cervids, it has created some concern in the cattle business due to its similarity to bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE.

As of May 2011, CWD has been found only in wild and captive animals in North America and in captive animals in the Republic of Korea, according to APHIS. First recognized as a clinical "wasting" syndrome in 1967, the disease is typified by chronic weight loss leading to death. Species currently known to be susceptible to CWD via natural routes of transmission include Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, black-tailed deer, sika deer, and moose. In the United States, as of April 2013, CWD has been confirmed in wild deer and elk in 18 States and in 40 farmed elk herds, 19 farmed white-tailed deer herds, and 1 farmed red deer herd in 13 States. The disease was first detected in U.S. farmed elk in 1997. It was also diagnosed in a wild moose in Colorado in 2005.

The final rule and background information are available online in the Federal Register