Pair of Pennsylvania deer culls could go long way on CWD-research/monitoring front

If things go as planned, Jan. 15 will mark a new chapter in the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s battle against chronic wasting disease. On that day, two limited culls of wild deer will be conducted around sites where CWD-positive animals have been found.

The culls will be performed by sharp-shooters with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, commonly known as APHIS.

The first cull is slated to kill about 100 deer on State Game Land 87, in Bell Township, at the extreme western edge of Clearfield County. That effort is planned within a one-mile radius of where deer that tested positive for chronic wasting disease were found, in Disease Management Area 3.

It’s an effort that will be watched closely because the area is adjacent to the state’s elk range, and the results of CWD tests on culled deer will determine future action. The Game Commission is focused on trying to keep wasting disease out of the elk herd. One CWD-positive deer was found at the location last summer, and several more have turned up among hunter-harvested whitetails.

The second cull is slated for Disease Management Area 2 in an area near a Fulton County game farm where four captive deer recently tested CWD positive. There, 30 to 40 deer will be removed and tested for CWD.

It is believed that CWD is occurring in family groups of deer, perhaps for genetic reasons. So returning to the sites where wasting disease was found and eliminating presumably related deer is seen as a way to keep CWD from spreading and the prevalence of the disease low. The method seems to be working in states such as Illinois.

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