With Chronic Wasting Disease discovered approximately 10 miles south of the Pennsylvania-Maryland line, the Pennsylvania Game Commission board of game commissioners gave preliminary approval at Tuesday's quarterly meeting to a revised set of emergency powers to enable the agency's executive director to take actions to mitigate risk factors and to determine the prevalence and geographic distribution of CWD.
"For more than a decade, the Game Commission has been monitoring our CWD status and striving to prevent CWD from coming to our state," PGC executive directory Carl Roe said. "While I hope that I never have to use these new tools, it is imperative that this agency's executive director be properly empowered to contain the disease to one area and prevent, or at the very least, slow the spread of this disease."
Under the emergency authority, if the executive director concludes the spread of CWD poses a threat within or adjacent to this Commonwealth, he will have the emergency authority to: prohibit the importation of high-risk cervid parts from areas that are known to harbor CWD; and define and designate Disease Management Areas in the Commonwealth. Once a DMA is designated, the executive director will be able to use his emergency authority to take several actions, including: allowing the taking of cervids without regard to established seasons and bag limits and methods of take; requiring mandatory checking of hunter-killed cervids; prohibiting the removal of high-risk cervid parts; prohibiting the rehabilitation of cervids; prohibiting the use, collection, possession and exportation of cervid urine-based attractants; prohibiting the feeding of cervids; and prohibiting any new permits to possess or transport live cervids.
Information on CWD is available on the PGC website at www.pgc.state.pa.us by clicking on "Wildlife" in the menu bar in the banner at the top of the page, then clicking on "Wildlife Diseases Home" and then choosing "Chronic Wasting Disease."
First identified in 1967, CWD is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy that affects cervids, including all species of deer, elk and moose. It is a progressive and always fatal disease of the nervous system, and scientists theorize CWD is caused by an agent called a prion that is capable of transforming normal brain proteins into an abnormal form, in turn causing the death of brain cells.
Prions are present in and shed into the environment by infected animals through blood, urine, saliva and tissue of the central nervous system. There currently is no practical way to test live animals for CWD, nor is there a vaccine.
Clinical signs include poor posture, lowered head and ears, uncoordinated movement, rough-hair coat, weight loss, increased thirst, excessive drooling, and, ultimately, death. There is currently no scientific evidence that CWD has or can spread to humans, either through contact with infected animals or by eating meat of infected animals, and the Center for Disease Control has investigated any connection between CWD and the human forms of TSEs and stated "the risk of infection with the CWD agent among hunters is extremely small, if it exists at all" and "it is extremely unlikely that CWD would be a food-borne hazard."
As a preventative effort, the Game Commission prohibits hunters from importing specific carcass parts from members of the deer family – including mule deer, elk and moose – from a growing list of states and Canadian provinces. The importation ban applies to hunters heading to: Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland (only from CWD containment area), Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York (Oneida and Madison counties), North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia (only from CWD containment area), West Virginia (only from the CWD containment area), Wisconsin and Wyoming; as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Baseball fans who have a Pennsylvania hunting or furtaking license can take advantage of a promotion by the Pittsburgh Pirates for discounted tickets to specific games. Advance purchase of outfield box seats for select Friday night games July 8 and 22, Aug. 5 and 19, and Sept. 9 and 23 at PNC Park will be $18, and include a limited edition Pirates hat and T-shirt. All tickets must be ordered a minimum of one week prior to the game and only orders purchased together will be seated together.
To download order forms, access the Pennsylvania Game Commission website at www.pgc.state.pa.us and click on the "PGC Nights With Pirates" icon. To view a seating chart, access the Pirates website at www.pirates.com.
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Kempton, is accepting applications for its 2011 Raptor Camp, a camp designed especially for young nature enthusiasts entering the fourth and fifth grade. Raptor Camp will be held daily from 9 am to 3 pm, July 25-29, and costs $230 per child with a $30 discount for Hawk Mountain members, and applications are available by calling the sanctuary at 610-756-6961 or by email at email@example.com.
During Raptor Camp, Hawk Mountain educators use eagles, hawks, falcons and owls as a focus for learning, and together the group takes advantage of the 2,600-acre sanctuary for outdoors activities. Each day includes hands-on lessons, crafts and activities, each designed to provide an enriched sense of environmental awareness and appreciation for birds of prey and the natural world we all share.
Bears Head Archery, Delano, located one mile off Exit 134, Interstate 81, has its 3-D course open daily to the public from dawn to dusk through Saturday, Oct. 15. Donations are accepted, and for information, contact Frank Blazusky at 570-467-0331 or docblazer@verizon. net.
Pennsylvania Game Commission Southeast Region commissioner Greg Isabella is the guest of Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association member Doyle Dietz on "Experience The Outdoors," Sunday, from 7-7:30 a.m. on 1410-AM, WLSH, from 9:30-10 a.m., on WMGH, 105.5-FM and on the Web at www.wmgh.com by clicking the "Experience The Outdoors" link.
A trap shoot will be held, Thursday, July 7, beginning at 6 p.m., at Orwigsburg Gun Club, Gun Club Road, off Route 443 East, Orwigsburg. For information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schuylkill Spurs Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation meets, Thursday, July 7, beginning at 7:30 p.m., at West Penn Archery, South Tamaqua. For information, call Kevin Titus at 570-668-5903.
Muzzleloader shoots sponsored by the First Frontier Militia will be held Sunday, July 10, Aug. 14, Sept. 11, Oct. 9, Nov. 13 and Dec. 11, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Bowmanstown Rod and Gun Club, off Route 248 between the Parryville and Bowmanstown exits on Gun Club Road. For information, call Roger Fisher at 610-377-2812.