DISEASE OUTBREAK CONCERNS WILDLIFE OFFICIALS
Officials with the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries are seeking public assistance to stop the illegal importation of deer into Alabama.
State law has prohibited the importation of any member of the deer family (deer, elk, moose, and caribou) into Alabama since 1973. Illegal importation of these animals is punishable by a $1,000 - 5,000 fine and up to 30 days imprisonment, according to a recent law passed by the Alabama Legislature.
Current outbreaks of Bovine Tuberculosis Disease and Chronic Wasting Disease in deer in some areas of the United States are major concerns for Alabama hunters and farmers, according to Steve Guy, director of the Federation's Wildlife Division. He said Alabama conservation officials are fearful that the state's deer population could be affected.
"Our white-tailed deer resource is extremely important, both economically and for recreation," said Conservation Commissioner Riley Boykin Smith. "We are asking the public to help us stop the possible introduction of diseases by reporting the illegal transportation of deer."
Introduction of a disease agent is always a risk when translocating deer.
Guy said some diseases transported by infected deer also could infect domestic livestock.
"Outbreaks of these diseases in some other states have devastated local deer population," Guy said. "We don't want that to happen here, and that's why it's so important to control the importation of animals."
Conservation officials have asked that anyone who sees live deer being transported in Alabama take note of the type of vehicle and/or trailer and tag numbers and immediately call the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Law Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-272-GAME (4263) or 334-242-3467.
Any information provided will be strictly confidential and may prevent the introduction of these potentially devastating diseases into native wildlife and domestic livestock, Smith said.