In reaction to the state’s first confirmed case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a deer, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is putting tight controls on hunters within parts of Adams and York Counties [PDF map].
CWD was found in a deer that spent its entire life in captivity, but game officials are taking steps to monitor the wild population in the area while doing everything it can to make sure the deadly disease does not spread.
A 600-square-mile region near York, PA, has been designated as a disease management area. Any deer killed in the management area during the two week rifle season must be taken to a check station where it will be tested for CWD. Outside of the two-week season taking the deer in for inspection is mandatory but highly encouraged.
“We will collect the samples that are necessary to submit for testing to identify whether or not the CWD has entered the wild herd,” said Pennsylvania Game Commission spokesperson Jerry Feaser.
Hunters will also be prohibited from taking the head, backbone and other parts of the deer out of the management area. Feaser said any hunter that wants to keep a trophy would have to take the animal to a taxidermist within the area. Experts with knowledge on how to safely dress the deer and dispose of the high-risk portions will also be at the check stations to help hunters remove pelts and bone-out the meat to allow the potentially disease-spreading portions of the deer to remain at the station.
“We are charged with managing wild deer so we are going to be identifying whether or not the disease has broken out into the wild population,” said Feaser.
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is leading a second investigation into what other captive deer might have come in contact with the diseased deer.
The Game Commission is stressing that there is no indication CWD has spread to the wild population. The Commission has tested more than 38,000 deer for CWD since 1998 including “target surveillance” in York and Adams Counties given their proximity to areas of Maryland where the disease has been found in the wild.
Feaser said the check stations are an important part of the on-going investigation. “It’s going to enable us to get as large a sample as possible of wild deer without having to conduct any culling where we would use sharp shooters to go out an kill deer simply for testing,” said Feaser.