New chronic wasting disease cases prompt steps to prevent spread of deer infections
New cases of chronic wasting disease among deer in three Pennsylvania counties have prompted state officials to take action against the spread of new infections.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission and the state Department of Agriculture will contact landowners in Clearfield, Jefferson and Franklin counties about “targeted removals” of deer within one or two miles of the CWD cases.
The number of deer to be removed in each area will vary, based on the local deer population. The goal is to remove and test enough deer to determine if CWD has established itself in the area. On average, 100 to 200 deer will need to be removed to reach this objective, the game commission said.
“Landowner cooperation is critical in these endeavors. Aggressive management strategies that reduce deer in other states have successfully demonstrated to eliminate these sparks of new infection,” said Matthew Schnupp, director of the game commission’s Bureau of Wildlife Management.
Chronic wasting disease afflicts members of the deer family, including whitetail, mule deer, moose and elk. The disease, which is progressive and always fatal, causes weight loss and behavioral changes in animals before ultimately leading to their death.
CWD has only been found in the wild deer population in nine of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. To date, CWD-positive wild deer have been detected in Bedford (79), Fulton (43), Blair (36), Cambria (3), Clearfield (2), Franklin (2), Huntingdon (1), Jefferson (1) and Somerset (1) counties. A map of CWD positives by township can be found at www.pgc.pa.gov.
Meanwhile, a captive deer that tested positive for CWD will require the game commission to expand Disease Management Area 3 into Pennsylvania’s elk range. Within DMAs, specific hunting regulations apply to help prevent the spread of CWD.
The CWD-positive buck had been brought to a Clearfield County hunting preserve near Curwensville from a Fulton County captive-deer facility, where it was born and raised, the game commission said. The state Department of Agriculture placed the Clearfield County hunting preserve and the Fulton County captive-deer facility under quarantine.
Speaking to the House Game and Fisheries Committee on Wednesday, Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans said the state can’t afford to ignore the disease.
"To ignore this disease will lead to one certain result – CWD will increase in prevalence and spread throughout the state. When CWD prevalence rates get too high, it is unlikely we can ever turn the clock back." -Burhans
— PA Game Commission (@PAGameComm) February 27, 2019
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .