The Pennsylvania Game Commission will host a meeting at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday at Central York High School to discuss chronic wasting disease in Pennsylvania and the special rules that will apply to deer hunters this year in the areas where the disease has been detected.
“We wanted to give hunters a heads up on the changes that are in store for this hunting season,” said Travis Lau with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
There are currently two Disease Management Areas. Parts of York and Adams Counties are within one of the two Disease Management Areas in Pennsylvania. One of those Areas is 600 square miles and encompasses parts of York and Adams Counties. These areas were set up after two deer with CWD turned up in Adams County. Because of this all hunters in the DMA were required to have their harvest tested for Chronic Wasting Disease. Now the Game Commission is lifting that requirement after testing revealed the disease is already in the wild.
“It was a different scenario back then because we didn’t know that we had Chronic Wasting Disease in the wild. At that point it hadn’t been detected here in ten or more years,” said Lau. “Since that time Chronic Wasting Disease has turned up in the wild and that’s where the second Disease Management Area comes from. Three deers from hunters in the rifle season tested positive for chronic wasting disease. So now that we know that we have it, It’s no longer an issue of trying to prevent it. We know we can’t do that.”
The Game Commission will continue to monitor the Disease Management Areas. “We are trying to take 1,000 samples from each Disease Management Area in order to give us the prevalence of that disease in the wild,” said Lau.
Transporting high-risk parts will be prohibited. “The high risk parts essentially are the head, backbone and spinal cord. With Chronic Wasting Disease though, putting that carcass out on the land somewhere does increase the chances of spreading Chronic Wasting Disease. Often that carcass will contain the high risk parts,” said Lau. “Hunters can bag the carcass and put it out for trash. We want to make sure those high risk parts are headed for the landfill and not placed out on the landscape.”
People who still want to have their harvest tested will have to make their own arrangements. “Those hunters need to make arrangements on their own to have the deer tested for the disease. Essentially they would bring it to the department of Agriculture Veterinary Lab up here in Harrisburg,” said Lau. “There is a fee for that testing, but it’s the only way for a hunter to assure that the deer they harvest is going to be free of Chronic Wasting Disease. Even though there is no evidence that Chronic Wasting Disease can be transferred by any natural path of infection, some hunters out of an abundance of caution want to know one way or the other. We still advise that meat from an animal that tests positive is not consumed.”
Another meeting is scheduled for Oct. 22 at Bermudian Springs High School, 7335 Carlisle Pike in York Springs, Adams County.
Chronic wasting disease attacks the brain of deer, elk and moose and is always fatal to the animals it infects, but it is not known to be transmitted to humans.
For more information from the Pennsylvania Game Commission click here