Quick Takes

Louisville man fined for bringing infected deer head into Kentucky

By: - May 8, 2023 4:45 pm

Elk in Eastern Kentucky. (Photo by Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources)

A Louisville man brought the intact and infectious head of a deer from Wisconsin into Kentucky, the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources said Monday. 

The department is seeking civil damages in a first of its kind suit, the department announced in a statement. 

That’s because the 8-point buck’s head tested positive for the highly infectious chronic wasting disease (CWD), a neurological disease that kills white-tailed deer, elk and moose, among others. 

No Kentucky deer or elk have ever tested positive for the disease, according to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife — unlike animals in Wisconsin. 

The remains came into the commonwealth frozen. 

“Over the past two decades, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife has tested more than 40,000 deer and elk in Kentucky for CWD as part of its efforts to prevent the spread and introduction of this disease into the commonwealth,” Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Rich Storm said in a statement.

“For years, we’ve informed the public about the threat posed by CWD in our hunting guides, press releases, magazine and television shows, websites, town hall meetings and social media. The information is out there for hunters.”

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife
Photo: Provided

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife says Nicholas J. Behringer, 47, admitted to violating a state regulation against bringing “deer carcasses or high-risk parts having potentially infectious tissue” into the state and that he cooperated further. 

The head in question, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife said, “still contained lymph nodes, spinal column and brain tissue.” 

“Hunters can legally bring de-boned meat, antlers, clean skull caps and hides of deer harvested from other states into Kentucky only if all of those high-risk tissues are removed,” the department said. 

Behringer paid $50 in fines on Jan. 3 in Shelby County. The department then requested around $1,900 in Franklin County to cover the cost of proper remains disposal (burning), testing and investigating. 

“The disease has been documented in every surrounding state except Indiana,” Wildlife Division Director Ben Robinson said in a statement. “We want to keep it from spreading to Kentucky’s deer and elk herds.”

Not every animal with chronic wasting disease will have symptoms, according to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. Those who are terminal, may be listless, lose weight, drink more water and urinate excessively.

This story may update. 


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Sarah Ladd
Sarah Ladd

Sarah Ladd is a Louisville-based journalist from West Kentucky who's covered everything from crime to higher education. She spent nearly two years on the metro breaking news desk at The Courier Journal. In 2020, she started reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and has covered health ever since. As the Kentucky Lantern's health reporter, she focuses on mental health, LGBTQ+ issues, COVID-19 and more.