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CWD – What Can You Do?

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    Wildlife officials have not pinpointed the source of CWD’s arrival in Pennsylvania, but early detections were linked to captive animals being raised on deer farms, such as the white buck. LISA PRICE/TIMES NEWS

Published May 31. 2019 11:36PM

Chronic Wasting Disease was detected in Pennsylvania in October 2012, found at a captive deer farm in Adams County. A short time after that detection, three deer positive for CWD were found in the wild population in Bedford and Blair Counties. Since 2012, CWD has continued to increase and spread.

CWD review – Can be spread from deer to deer or indirectly through contaminated environments (shed by deer saliva, urine or feces). It is always fatal and no cure or vaccine exists. Prevention is crucial.

To date, CWD has not been found in our area of northeast Pennsylvania. But what can you do to help make sure it doesn’t take hold here?

1. Stop feeding deer. Any activities that unnaturally group deer, such as feeding, which causes them to unnaturally congregate in a small area, increases the risk of the spread of CWD. If even one infected animal is in an area – and visits a feeding area – the entire local deer population in that area is at risk.

2. Hunters should properly dispose of high-risk parts, if hunting in a CWD Disease Management Area in PA, or when hunting in other CWD-positive states or Canadian Provinces. Currently CWD has been detected in 26 states and 3 Canadian Provinces. High-risk parts include the head (brain, eyes, tonsils and lymph nodes), spinal cord and spleen. Within PA these parts can be disposed of in dumpsters provided by the PGC in Disease Management Areas or with your commercial trash (double-bagged).

3. If you see a deer you believe is sick, do not disturb it or attempt to kill it. Accurately document the location of the animal and immediately contact your nearest Game Commission regional office.

4. The PGC has established special Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) units within the Disease Management Areas. Hunters can obtain up to 2 DMAP permits in each unit. The permits can be used to harvest additional antlerless deer during any established deer season, including the antlered-only season. Consider an in-state hunting trip to harvest antlerless deer in those areas.

5. Trust that officials are using the best available research and support their efforts to contain the disease through increased doe permits in disease management areas and targeted removals/culling efforts. In Illinois, where targeted removals took place, the disease was contained. In Wisconsin, due to hunter and public pushback, targeted removals ceased and CWD is rampant.

“Our first targeted removal operation occurred in 2017 after CWD was detected in a captive deer facility in Fulton County,” said PGC CWD Communication Specialist Courtney Colley. “A total of 30 deer were harvested within a 1.5-mile radius of the captive facility.”

“Two targeted removals were conducted in the beginning of 2018, one after CWD was detected on a captive deer facility in Franklin County – 43 deer were harvested within a one-mile radius of the captive facility,” she added. “The second targeted-removal occurred within 4 square miles of a wild CWD detection in Clearfield County on State Game Lands 87 – a total of 123 deer were harvested within the 4-square-mile area.”

The Pennsylvania Game Commission will not succeed in the battle against CWD alone. To achieve success, the PGC needs the support of hunters, communities and the legislature – future generations of deer hunters are depending on us all.

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