CWD Public Forum

The hunters imported deer heads into SC from Kansas.

NCWRC holding public forum Oct. 10

Three hunters from South Carolina have been charged with federal wildlife crimes in a case that began in Kansas and ended when a trophy deer head they imported into South Carolina tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease, a fatal disease that has not been detected in South Carolina’s wild population of deer. The disease is deadly to deer and other cervids, but so far, it doesn’t appear to impact the health of humans.

Importing deer parts from states that are known to have CWD (such as Kansas) into states with no known cases of the disease, is a state and federal crime. The three men charged with the crime, Sean Robert Paschall, Chad Caldwell Seymore and Justin Grady LeMaster, each face up to 5 years in prison. A lawyer for one of the men said his client did not know about the law that prohibits importing the deer parts from another state.

SC’s herd is still CWD-free

It is legal to bring finished taxidermy products into South Carolina from other states, so if the men had gotten the deer head finished in Kansas, then brought it into South Carolina, they would have had no problems. However, when they realized it was more expensive to do that in Kansas than in South Carolina, they opted to bring the whole deer head, as well as other unprocessed deer parts, to South Carolina.

South Carolina remains one of just a handful of southeastern states with no confirmed cases of CWD in the wild herd, but Charles Ruth, deer biologist with SCDNR, said cases like this one put that statistic in jeopardy. Dumping potentially CWD-infected deer parts into the woods is one way that hunters could inadvertently introduce the disease into the state’s wild population of deer, which could then spread throughout the state’s herd relatively quickly.

According to SCDNR, this case began in 2019 when Region 1 Officer Brooks Woodlief intercepted deer heads that had been illegally transported from Kansas into South Carolina. It was one of those heads that tested positive for CWD.

SCDNR then began working closely with the USFWS as well as wildlife officers in Kansas, resulting in the arrests.

Along with the interstate transport of a CWD-positive whitetail deer into South Carolina, the hunters are also accused of illegally killing a mule deer in Kansas.

The SCDNR released the following statement about the incident:

“We are thankful for the dedication of our officers and investigators who are working to keep South Carolina CWD-free. CWD is a transmissable or contagious, always fatal, neurological disease that affects members of the Cervidae (deer) family. State laws are in place to protect our deer population as we are one of the few states where CWD has not been detected. For more information on CWD and SC laws on the importation of wildlife, visit www.dnr.sc.gov/cwd/index.html.”

About Brian Cope 2787 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at brianc@carolinasportsman.com.

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