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Registration

A person who raises farmed cervidae (deer or elk) in Minnesota must be registered with the Board of Animal Health and meet all the requirements specified in Minnesota Statutes 32.153, 35.155 and Minnesota rules 1721.0370 to 1721.04.

“Cervidae” means animals that are members of the family Cervidae and includes, but is not limited to, white-tailed deer, mule deer, red deer, elk, moose, caribou, reindeer, and muntjac.

“Farmed cervidae” means cervidae that are raised for any purpose and are registered in a manner approved by the Board of Animal Health. Farmed cervidae are livestock and are not wild animals for purposes of game farm, hunting, or wildlife laws.

To register a farmed cervidae herd, the owner must submit a registration application and inventory report to the Board of Animal Health along with a check for the annual inspection fee. As of July 1, 2019, the fee is $500 for producers that manage their herd for profit or monetary gain, engage in transaction or exchanges for consideration, sell the ability to shoot animals in the herd, or if the herd consists of more than one species. The fee is $250 for all other herds.

Each farmed cervidae facility must be inspected by the Board of Animal Health each year to verify compliance with Minnesota Statutes 35.153, 35.155 and Minnesota rules 1721.0370 to 1721.04.

Farmed cervid carcass disposal

The Board follows the USDA Herd Certification Program (HCP) standards for cervid carcass disposal. The goal of the plan is to provide a consistent approach across the states to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.

Carcass disposal options are outlined (Part B, pages 51 to 52) for CWD positive, exposed or suspect herds. Approved disposal options include:

  • Incineration
  • Alkaline hydrolysis
  • Landfill
  • Onsite burial

Composting is not allowed in CWD positive, exposed or suspect herds. Therefore, the Board discourages composting of any farmed cervid carcass.

Given the prolonged incubation period for CWD and prions in general, it is not a good idea to compost cervids. If composting is used on a premises later designated as suspect, positive or exposed, this will result in more complicated and expensive cleaning and disinfection, a responsibility that falls to the producer. In addition, composting is a very superficial disposal method that does not preclude prion exposure to other cervids or scavengers.

HCP-approved methods of carcass disposal

The following information is from the HCP.

Incineration

Carcasses may be incinerated in an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved conventional incinerator, air curtain incinerator, or cement kiln. Prions can be destroyed through incineration provided the incinerator can maintain a temperature of 900° F for 4 hours. Incineration of animals onsite with a mobile incinerator is an option as it presents the least risk of spreading contaminated materials by moving carcasses.

However, mobile incinerators require large amounts of fuel to maintain an even, high temperature appropriate for prions.

After incineration, ashes should be buried in an active, licensed landfill at a depth that meets local and State regulations to prevent scavenging or contamination of groundwater.

Alkaline hydrolysis

Carcasses of infected animals can be destroyed in a sterile alkaline solution using an alkaline hydrolysis digester. This consists of an insulated steam-jacketed stainless steel vessel which operates at up to 70 psi and 300° F into which sodium hydroxide and water is added, heated, and continuously circulated. This process degrades proteins and the temperature, together with alkali concentrations, deactivates prions.

After digestion, treated material may be buried in an active, licensed landfill at a depth that meets local and state regulations.

Landfill

Carcasses may be buried in a licensed, active landfill that meets local and state regulations for animal carcass disposal. However, this method will NOT inactivate the prions.

The definition of infectious waste varies among states, which could affect the standards associated with collection, handling, and disposal of waste that can include tissue, body parts, heads, and carcasses as well as contaminated laboratory materials. Consult with local and state authorities when pursuing this option.

In addition, individual animals could be tested for CWD using an ELISA with carcass disposal delayed until results are obtained. Subsequently, carcasses from positive animals can be disposed of with incineration or alkaline hydrolysis with burial of the treated materials. Carcass burial in a landfill in compliance with local and State regulations may be used for other animals with “not-detected” results.

Onsite burial

Carcasses may be buried onsite at a depth that meets local and state regulations for animal carcass disposal. However, this method will NOT inactivate the prions.

In addition, individual animals could be tested for CWD using an ELISA with carcass disposal delayed until results are obtained. Subsequently, carcasses from positive animals can be disposed of with incineration or alkaline hydrolysis with burial of the treated materials. Carcass burial onsite in compliance with local and State regulations may be used for other animals with “not-detected” results.

Tuberculosis

Bovine tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that can affect many mammals, including members of the cervidae family. The disease is caused by Mycobacterium bovis. It can be transmitted between livestock, humans, and other animals. The disease is spread through respiratory and oral secretions from infected animals.

The Board of Animal Health administers a voluntary tuberculosis accreditation program for farmed cervidae herds. To be awarded tuberculosis accredited status, a herd must be found negative on two consecutive whole herd tuberculosis tests conducted nine to fifteen months apart. If your cervidae herd has contact with cattle, bison, or goats on your farm, then these animals must also be tuberculosis tested to receive accredited status for your herd. To maintain this status, whole herd tuberculosis tests must be conducted every 36 months.

Brucellosis

Bovine brucellosis is a contagious disease of ruminant animals that can also affect humans. It is caused by bacteria known as Brucella abortus. The disease is spread through fluids from infected animals.

The Board of Animal Health administers a voluntary brucellosis certification program for farmed cervidae herds. To be awarded brucellosis certified status, a herd must be found negative on two consecutive whole herd brucellosis tests conducted nine to fifteen months apart. If your cervidae herd has contact with cattle or bison on your farm, then these animals must also be brucellosis tested to receive certified status for your herd. To maintain this status, whole herd brucellosis tests must be conducted every 36 months.


Farmed Cervid Task Force Meeting Minutes

Meeting minutes are available as PDF files below: