2nd deer with CWD is found
Harrisburg — A second Pennsylvania deer has been found to have had chronic wasting disease.
The animal, a buck, was found on the same captive deer farm in New Oxford, Adams County, where the state’s first-ever case of the disease was discovered. Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture officials announced the news of that first deer on Oct. 11; word of the second CWD-positive deer followed Nov. 7.
Eight deer from that farm were euthanized after the original doe was found to have CWD. Testing revealed seven were disease free. The eighth came back as CWD-positive in initial tests. Tissue samples were sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, for confirmation.
That facility also found the disease in the buck.
Discovery of that first case led to the creation of a 600-square-mile disease management area by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. It’s meant to look for – and perhaps prevent the spread of – the disease to wild deer in that area.
It also led the state Department of Agriculture to begin searching for deer on other farms that had a connection to the New Oxford facility. That’s led to many being quarantined.
The Department of Agriculture puts that number at 27 “farms.” Its own list in actuality identifies 30 separate properties, however. A few with deer on two locations are considered one “farm,” apparently.
The discovery of the second CWD-positive deer will not lead to any more changes, said Matthew Meals, deputy secretary of the agriculture department.
“It will not trigger anything different. From our records, it appears that that deer was born and raised on that [New Oxford] facility, so nothing will change much,” he said.
Indeed, in announcing the second positive case of CWD, officials intimated that the situation was under control.
“Since the first positive deer was found in Pennsylvania last month, the Chronic Wasting Disease Task Force has put in place aggressive measures to prevent further spread of the disease,” Agriculture Secretary George Greig said.
“This positive deer was found because of those efforts, and we will continue our work to protect the state’s captive and wild deer populations.”
But the situation remains very fluid in at least two ways.
For starters, there were nine, not eight, deer left on the New Oxford farm after CWD was initially discovered. All were to be euthanized and tested.
But the ninth – bearing ear tags and known as Pink 23 – escaped and remains free. That’s concerned sportsmen and others since wasting disease is transmitted by deer-to-deer contact.
Officials with the agriculture department are working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Pennsylvania Game Commission to capture Pink 23, and have put out trail cameras to look for it. But so far it’s escaped detection, Meals said.
The number of deer farms under quarantine could conceivably yet grow, too. Those being managed under the rule already are spread across 16 counties, from Adams to Tioga and McKean in the north to Clarion in the west.
But agriculture officials said they are still doing a “trace out” of farms that might have deer that had contact with the “index farm” in New Oxford. That could touch as many as 150 farms, they said previously.
At the same time, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has expanded the number of sites where hunters who take a deer within the disease management area during the state’s two-week firearms deer season can check in a deer.
Initially, the commission was going to require hunters to bring their deer to a check station that’s been established on State Game Land 249 in East Berlin in Adams County. That facility will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily throughout deer season.
But with a crush of hunters possible – and the rural roads in the area perhaps unable to handle them, and to avoid long lines – the commission on Oct. 31 announced that “all cooperating deer processors within the (disease management area) will be considered check stations.”
The commission will be gathering samples from hunter-killed deer at those processors, read a letter sent to hunters in Adams and York counties and parts of Maryland.
A list of cooperating deer processors and taxidermists from within the area will be announced and posted on the commission’s website.
For updates about the chronic wasting disease situation in Pennsylvania, go to outdoornews.com/Pennsylvania/CWD.