HARRISBURG – When chronic wasting disease was detected in Pennsylvania for the first time last year, all of the warnings the Pennsylvania Game Commission issues every year to out-of-state hunters about precautions to take after downing a deer, elk or moose became more pertinent.
This year the PGC has once again issued a specific list of banned carcass parts from 21 states and two Canadian provinces, but new this year is a reminder to hunters to be alert for signs of CWD when the statewide archery season opens Saturday, Oct. 5. These rules cover both fair-chase hunts and animals taken on high-fence hunts on preserves.
Carcass parts banned from being imported into Pennsylvania 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.
This list of banned parts ban affects the states of Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, from CWD Management Area of Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Madison and Oneida counties in New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, the CWD Containment Area in Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Canadian provinces on the list are Alberta and Saskatchewan.
"This is the first time that we've entered the fall hunting seasons knowing that we have chronic wasting disease inside Pennsylvania, but that doesn't mean we've given up the fight to slow the disease's spread or make its impacts on our deer herd as minimal as possible," PGC executive director Carl Roe said. "High-risk parts are classified as such for a reason, and while we wish Pennsylvanians luck in all of their out-of-state hunts, we also ask them to make sure they're following the rules and bringing back home with them only the parts they're allowed."
Roe urged hunters heading to a state with a history of CWD to become familiar with that state's wildlife regulations and guidelines for the transportation of game animals and that hunters who are successful in those areas from which the importation of high-risk parts into Pennsylvania is banned are allowed to import meat from any deer, elk, moose, mule deer or caribou, so long as the backbone is not present. Successful hunters also are allowed to bring back cleaned skull plates 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; capes, 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 detected its first case of CWD last year in a captive deer kept at an Adams County facility, and another deer that had lived in the same pen later tested positive for the disease. Since that time, the disease was detected in three free-ranging deer taken by hunters in Bedford and Blair counties during the 2012 firearms deer season.
In response to those cases, the PGC has outlined two Disease Management Areas totaling about 1,500 square miles and special rules regarding deer hunting, the feeding of wildlife and the transport of high-risk deer parts apply within those areas. Maps of the DMAs are available on the agency's website and are shown on pages 53 and 54 of the "2013-14 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest," which is presented with the purchase of each Pennsylvania hunting license.
Hunters who take a deer, elk or moose in a state or province where CWD is known to exist should follow instructions from that state's wildlife agency 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 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest and on the agency's website at http://www.pgc.state.pa.us/.