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Outdoors notebook: Vaccine for wasting disease in the works

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Sunday, April 7, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Pennsylvania, as everyone knows, is among the states dealing with chronic wasting disease.

CWD was found in captive deer in Adams County in October and in three wild deer killed in Bedford and Blair counties by hunters during firearms deer season. It's going to be tough to battle.

Scientists across the country have said there's no way to test live animals for the always-fatal ailment. There's also no treatment for it.

But researchers are working on that.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has begun a multiyear study to evaluate the effectiveness of a CWD vaccine on elk. A parallel study is being done on deer in Colorado.

The vaccine has to be administered by hand, so even if it works, it will not be practical in its current form for use on wild animals. Further research would be needed to figure out a delivery method for them.

Either way, it will take years to get answers.

“Their outcome is far in the future,” said Walt Cottrell, the Pennsylvania Game Commission's wildlife veterinarian.

Bad birds

You've surely seen TV shows in which people have been stalked or even attacked by sharks or bears or some other mega-predator.

But turkeys?

That was a problem in Allegheny County recently. According to Dan Puhala, a conservation officer with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, some “aggressive nuisance turkeys” that had become used to being fed were harassing people living along a dead-end road.

“The birds were preventing people from leaving their homes and chasing them as they returned from the bus stop,” he said.

Puhala and other officers trapped the birds and removed them from the area.

Careers camp

Students have one week left to apply for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' annual career camp.

It gives 20 to 25 students in grades 10 to 12 the chance to learn about careers in conservation and the environment. It will be held from July 7-12 at Kirby Episcopal House and Chapel in Luzerne County.

For details, visit or call 724-865-7857.

Land acquired

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy recently added about 100 acres to Buchanan State Forest in Bedford County. It will become a part of the forest's 1,400-acre Sweet Root Natural Area.

The conservancy also added 40 acres to the David M. Roderick Wildlife Reserve in Erie County. It is home to habitat for rare plants and animals.

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

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