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Request for Public Comment: Animal Health - 2018 Chronic Wasting Disease Rule Review

The Ohio Department of Agriculture is accepting comments regarding the rules found in Chapter 901:1-1 of the Ohio Administrative Code. The rules in this package have been reviewed pursuant to Chapter 119 of the Revised Code and the Five-Year Rule Review process. The comment period will remain open through July 20, 2018. Comments may be emailed to eComments@agri.ohio.gov or mailed to Legal Section, Ohio Department of Agriculture, 8995 E. Main St., Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068.

OAC Chapter 901:1-1 regulates the disease known as Chronic Wasting Disease which is designated under OAC 901:1-21-02 as a dangerously contagious or infectious disease. Pursuant to authority in section 941.02 of the Ohio Revised Code, the Director of Agriculture has authority to use all proper means in the prevention and eradication of infectious and contagious diseases which pose a threat to public health or animal health. 

Chronic Wasting Disease (“CWD”) is a fatal, extremely dangerous contagious disease that afflicts white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family. The director of agriculture is required to take all actions, including the adoption of rules, that he determines are necessary to mitigate or eliminate the presence of chronic wasting disease. Pursuant to the Legislative Service Commission’s guide on administrative rule drafting, the Department has proposed to rescind the existing rules found in Chapter 901:1-1 and replace the Chapter with newly drafted rules. The majority of the proposed rules remain the same however several significant amendments have been proposed.  The new rules are outlined below:

OAC 901:1-1-01 sets out the definitions as used in the Chapter. These definitions match either terms defined in ORC Chapter 943 or the CWD federal program standards.

OAC 901:1-1-02 outlines the licensing and registration procedures for owners of captive whitetail deer. ORC 943.20 requires that all owners of captive whitetail deer either license or register with the Department. Further, the law requires that these owners also obtain a permit from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Further, the rule requires that all facilities must be inspected upon the initial registration. Thereafter, the facilities must be inspected visually every year and a physical inspection of the facilities must be completed once every three years. 

OAC 901:1-1-03 outlines rules regarding fencing, escapes, and movement. The rule now requires that all owners of captive whitetail deer must inspect their perimeter fences on a weekly basis and document these inspections. Additionally, all escapes must be reported immediately to the Department and any escaped animal which is not returned to the premise within twenty-four hours may not be returned to the facility. 

OAC 901:1-1-04 outlines the identification requirements for all animals inside the facility. Specifically, all animals over twelve months of age must bear two types of identification: official identification and another form of unique visible identification. Official identification is limited to an official USDA metal eartag bearing an alphanumeric identification number, approved visual or electronic radio frequency identification, or a microchip using described frequencies. 

OAC 901:1-1-05 outlines the requirements for death and testing. Substantively, all animals which are over one-year of age which die for any reason must be tested for chronic wasting disease. Previously, hunting preserves were required to test a lower percentage of deaths. In addition, the rule sets out a phase-out period where owners of captive whitetail deer that die may submit non-ear tissue with the official identification devices until December 31, 2020. Additionally, the rules outline new quarantine conditions for facilities which submit poor quality, missing, or untimely samples. 

OAC 901:1-1-06 sets out the recordkeeping requirements for captive whitetail deer owners. Owners must maintain a complete current herd inventory with specific information on each deer present for a period of five years. Further, the fencing inspection conducted as required in OAC 901:1-1-03 must be maintained pursuant to this rule.