ShareThis Page

Deer wasting disease not found in Adams County management area

| Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, 6:16 p.m.

HARRISBURG — Chronic wasting disease does not seem to have spread to Pennsylvania's wild deer herd, said the Game Commission's veterinarian, Walt Cottrell.

But the herd isn't in the clear yet.

Tests done on 2,051 deer killed by hunters, shot by farmers for crop damage or hit by vehicles inside the 400-square-mile disease management zone established around an Adams County deer farm where CWD was discovered in October revealed no evidence of the disease, Cottrell said.

That's not to say all of those deer were completely healthy. CWD is slow-developing, Cottrell said, so animals in which the disease was “not detected” could still have been sick.

But the news is about as good as could be hoped for, he said.

“It's a good outcome for us,” Cottrell said. “This gives us every reason to believe that this index case was confined behind that fence.”

Challenges remain, though.

Chronic wasting disease has been found in wild deer herds in West Virginia and — even closer — within 10 miles of the border with Maryland. It's possible, if not likely, the disease will walk into Pennsylvania from there, Cottrell added.

“It seems to be headed in our direction. The terrain in that area seems to favor that,” he said.

Commissioner Ron Weaner of Adams County asked if the disease might also make its way here through the use of deer urine by hunters. Cottrell said yes.

Such lures are collected exclusively at deer farms that have spread the disease, Cottrell said. Deer congregate, which makes it easier for the disease to pass from animal to animal, all while potentially contaminating soils, he added.

There's no way to quantify the risk, he said, but added that the fact urine is a possible conduit for spreading the disease is “not a matter which is in doubt.”

“I don't feel compelled to quantify that probability. I feel compelled to mitigate that possibility,” he said in explaining why he favors banning their use.

Not every member of the commission board appears ready to take that step, however.

Commissioner Brian Hoover of Delaware County said there's no proof that urine products have spread wasting disease. To ban them would have economic consequences, he added.

“Before we jump to conclusions, I'd like to see some more information on that,” Hoover said.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.