Game Commission executive director calls CWD an ecological disaster

(Photo by Karsun Designs/Flicker)

Watching the chronic wasting disease outbreak spread in Pennsylvania just feels like witnessing a slow-motion train wreck to me, and in my own mind I can’t decide if it’s a disaster for wildlife or not. But Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans left no doubt how he feels about it.

At the Game Commission’s recent press conference announcing that a new 346-square-mile disease management area has been created in Lancaster County around the finding of a CWD-positive captive deer, Burhans made some compelling comments.

Bryan Burhans, Pennsylvania Game Commission executive director, said things have gone from bad to worse on the CWD front.

Regarding CWD in the state, he noted that things have gone from bad to worse, and the commission has to deal with that because wasting disease will not “burn out” over time. There’s no evidence it’s always existed – and that deer have learned to adapt to it – over time, either, he noted.

Burhans compared CWD to the blight that wiped out chestnut trees a century ago.

“Chestnuts were a mainstay for wildlife, perhaps the number one food source across the landscape. Now they’re gone,” he said.

Burhans said the commission is committed “to doing everything we can possibly do” to prevent the insidious disease from having a similar impact on white-tailed deer and hunting.

“Chronic wasting disease is another one of those diseases that’s an ecological disaster,” he said.

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