Lawmaker wants to ease restrictions on bringing deer carcasses into Tennessee

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

TRI-CITIES, TN (WJHL) – A Tennessee lawmaker plans to introduce a bill during the 2017 legislative session that would ease restrictions on how deer carcasses can be imported into the state.

A new Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency rule prohibits deer, elk, and moose harvested in states that have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease from entering the state unless they have been processed first.

The wildlife agency said the rule is meant to prevent the highly contagious, fatal, neurological disease from entering the state. CWD, which affects the deer family, is currently not in Tennessee.

But local taxidermists have said the new rule will adversely impact their business.

“Probably 50 to 60 percent of my business is out of state,” said Jason Roberts, who has worked as a taxidermists for 15 years. “That’s going to hurt me tremendously.”

Representative Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport) plans on introducing a bill during the upcoming legislative session to ease the restrictions.

He met with taxidermists in October about their concerns with the TWRA rule and thinks he has a solution that will let hunters bring in out-of-state carcasses.

“One, you can have it de-boned and processed where you killed it and then bring it in. Or you can bring it in the state but you have to take it immediately to a taxidermist or to a meat processing place.”

Representative Hulsey said the businesses would follow TWRA guidelines to make sure they are using the safest disposal methods to prevent CWD from entering the environment and spreading to deer.

Hulsey said it is common-sense legislation that is a compromise.

“I think it keeps us responsible but I think it’s an avenue also to keep from shutting down legitimate business.”

Representative Hulsey said he plans on filing the bill in the next couple weeks. The Tennessee General Assembly will convene on Tuesday, Jan. 10.