HARRISBURG Earlier this year, the biggest concern of the state's deer hunters and the Pennsylvania Game Commission alike was not the agency's program for deer management, but the new that Chronic Wasting Disease had been found just miles south of the Mason-Dixon Line in Maryland.
Fortunately, no cases of CWD have been found in Pennsylvania, but with this the time of the year when thousands of the state's hunters leave on trips to hunt big game in other states and Canadian provinces, PGC executive director Carl Roe issued a reminder last week to the effect that, in an effort to prevent its introduction into the Commonwealth, the agency prohibits hunters from importing specific carcass parts from members of the deer family including mule deer, elk and moose from 19 states and two Canadian provinces.
Roe noted that this importation ban is outlined in a recently revised executive order, and affects hunters traveling to the states of Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, the CWD Management Area in Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York's Madison and Oneida counties, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, the CWD Containment Area of Virginia, the CWD Containment Area of West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Also affected are those hunting in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Under the new order, hunters are prohibited from bringing back certain parts from any cervid from the listed states or provinces, whether the animal was taken from the wild or from a captive, high-fence operation. Specific carcass parts that are illegal to be brought back to Pennsylvania by hunters are the ones where the CWD prions concentrate in cervids.
These parts are the head, including brain, tonsils, eyes and any lymph nodes; spinal cord/backbone; spleen; skull plate with attached antlers, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; cape, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if root structure or other soft tissue is present; any object or article containing visible brain or spinal cord tissue; unfinished taxidermy mounts; and brain-tanned hides.
"The most notable change this year in the list of states impacted by Pennsylvania's Parts Ban is due to the detection of CWD in Maryland," Roe said. "It is important for those Pennsylvania hunters heading to Maryland to become familiar with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources CWD Management Area.
"This area includes a portion of Allegany County noted as Private Land Code 233 in Maryland's annual "Guide to Hunting and Trapping. This section includes Maryland's Green Ridge State Forest east of Flintstone and Oldtown and is directly south of Pennsylvania's Bedford and Fulton counties."
In West Virginia, the CWD Containment Area also has been expanded as the disease has moved outside of Hampshire County. This new CWD Containment Area now includes all of Hampshire County and portions of Hardy and Morgan counties, and hunters can find details by contacting the Maryland Department of Natural Resources or the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
Roe noted that the prohibition does not limit the importation of meat, without the backbone; cleaned skull plate with attached antlers, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; tanned hide or raw hide with no visible brain or spinal cord tissue present; cape, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if no root structure or other soft tissue is present; and finished taxidermy mounts.
Pennsylvania hunters heading to a state with a history of CWD should become familiar with that state's wildlife regulations and guidelines for the transportation of harvested game animals. Wildlife officials have suggested hunters in areas where CWD is known to exist follow these usual recommendations to prevent the possible spread of disease:
Do not shoot, handle or consume any animal that appears sick; contact the state wildlife agency if you see or harvest an animal that appears sick; wear rubber or latex gloves when field-dressing carcasses; bone out the meat from an animal; minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues; wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field-dressing is completed; request that an animal is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to the meat, or process one's own meat; have an animal processed in the endemic area of the state where it was harvested, so that high-risk body parts can be properly disposed of there; only bring permitted materials back to Pennsylvania; do not consume the brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils or lymph nodes of harvested animals; and consider not consuming the meat from any animal that tests positive for the disease.
Roe said hunters who harvest a deer, elk or moose in a state or province where CWD is known to exist should follow their wildlife agency's instructions on how and where to submit the appropriate samples to have their animal tested. If, after returning to Pennsylvania, a hunter is notified that their game tested positive for CWD, the hunter is encouraged to immediately contact the PGC region office that serves the county in which they reside for disposal recommendations and assistance.
A list of region offices and contact information appears on Page 5 of the "2011-12 Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest," which is presented to each Pennsylvania license buyer. Contact information also is available on the PGC website at www.pgc.state.pa.us.