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Outdoors notebook: Chronic wasting disease vaccine fails to offer solution

| Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, 9:27 p.m.

An experimental vaccine meant to keep deer and elk from contracting chronic wasting disease apparently is doing just the opposite.

Researchers in Wyoming began testing the drug on 35 female elk in 2013. So far, according to a story on WyoFile, an online reporting service, it has made them seven times more likely to get CWD than otherwise.

The site quoted Mary Wood, wildlife veterinarian with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, as saying those results are preliminary. They have not been peer-reviewed or published, she told members of the commission board.

But the vaccine appears to have a “negative effect,” she added.

According to WyoFile, Wood said the good news is the vaccine trial, which is ongoing with 13 surviving elk, may yet provide genetic clues on what makes some animals less susceptible to, or even immune to wasting disease.

Report deer, win prize

In Pennsylvania, fewer than half of hunters report killing a deer, as is required by law.

Louisiana has the same problem. The state's department of wildlife and fisheries tried fining hunters who didn't comply. That wasn't successful, so now it's trying something else.

According to a story in the Times-Picayune, the agency launched a program that automatically enters hunters who report a deer within seven days of harvest into a prize lottery. The grand prize is the winner's choice of a Remington 700 or Thompson Center breech-loading rifle — in their choice of caliber — with a scope and case. Four other winners will get lifetime hunting licenses.

Boat sales soar

Powerboat sales are up and may hit pre-recession levels as early as the first quarter of this year, according to the National Marine Manufacturer's Association.

The trade group said final 2015 sales are expected to be up 8 percent. It's predicting 6 to 8 percent more growth this year.

Jet boats saw the biggest increase in sales last year, up 18.1 percent. Bass boats saw the slowest, up 5.3 percent. Other fiberglass outboard boats (including center console boats, sportfishing boats and flats boats) were up 11.1 percent, and aluminum outboard boats (including all-purpose fishing boats and jon boats) were up 5.8 percent.

Commission honored

Outdoor Life magazine singled out the Pennsylvania Game Commission for recognition.

The magazine presents “Open Country Awards” each year to honor those “who have demonstrated their long-term commitment to advocating for public access.” The commission won in the “state/government agency” division for its cooperative hunter access program. Launched in 1936, it's the oldest of its kind in the country and keeps 2.6 million acres of private land open to hunting.

This year's awards will be presented at the SHOT Show Jan. 19-22 in Las Vegas.

W.Va. deer harvest up

The number of deer taken by hunters during Pennsylvania's two-week firearms deer season won't be announced until March.

It's a different story in West Virginia.

There, preliminary data released within weeks of the firearms season's end said hunters killed 66,374 bucks. That's up 77 percent over 2014.

Division of natural resources officials credited that to excellent weather and a lack of acorns that concentrated deer.

Bob Frye is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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