CWD focus shifts to containment

By Steve

Westmoreland, N.Y. – A second case of Chronic Wasting Disease
has been discovered in New York’s wild deer herd, but it hasn’t
changed the approach to keeping the disease in check.

DEC and state Department of Agriculture and Markets officials
have responded to the situation by setting down a series of
emergency regulations that will be implemented both within the
“containment area” – a 10-mile radius from where the disease was
first discovered – as well as statewide.

“Our initial effort was to determine if CWD was present in the
wild herd; once we determined it was, we shifted our focus to try
to determine how prevalent it is and where, and to prevent its
movement out of the containment area,” said Gerald Barnhart, DEC’s
director of fish, wildlife and marine resources.

The two cases in the wild deer herd were discovered about a mile
apart in the Oneida County town of Verona. That town is part of the
containment area established on the heels of five positive CWD test
results from a pair of captive deer herds in early April.

Those initial CWD cases – four from one deer farm and one from
another, both in the Town of Westmoreland – prompted DEC and Ag and
Markets to launch an extensive testing program in the surrounding
wild deer herd.

In all, 290 samples from wild deer were taken in Oneida County;
two from neighboring Madison County; and 25 more from the Town of
Arietta in Hamilton County, where a now-deceased deer farmer had
apparently dealt with one of the farms where CWD was initially

Most of the CWD tests came from deer killed by DEC “collection
teams” which shot whitetails within the containment area during a
round-the-clock operation on public and private land. That effort
ended April 30, after the initial positive case was detected in the
wild herd and right before the opening of the state’s spring
gobbler season.

DEC officials were also concerned about the growing potential of
orphaning fawns when shooting adult does, as well as safety issues
relating to the onset of spring foliage.

“We’re going to increase the sample size, and the best way to do
that is by sampling hunter-killed deer this fall,” Barnhart

Hunters bringing deer to the check stations for testing will be
able to keep and consume their deer. They’ll also be made aware of
the test results.

DEC was continuing to test deer from two other captive deer
herds “directly associated with the two herds” where the initial
CWD cases were found. Results of those tests were expected

The emergency regulations designed to contain CWD were
implemented April 29 and are effective immediately for 90 days. DEC
is developing permanent regulations which will appear in the State
Register and be subject to a 45-day comment period.

The regulations govern the handling, transport and management of
deer in the state, and also address the type of situation that
occurred at one of the deer farms where four CWD cases – including
the first ever in the state – were detected.

Under the regulations, deer farmers will be prohibited from
rehabilitating wild whitetails, and taxidermists will be required
to take steps to keep deer from coming in contact with materials
that may contain the infectious agent that causes CWD.

One Westmoreland deer farmer where four of the initial CWD cases
were detected also served as a wildlife rehabilitator and

Barnhart said the regulations address a situation DEC and Ag and
Markets officials never considered.

“None of us hypothesized or ever realized that this chain of
events could and would happen,” Barnhart said of the deer
farmer-taxidermist-wildlife rehabilitator scenario.

The regulations also prohibit the sale of feed specifically
packaged as a product used to feed or attract deer. Businesses
selling livestock will also be required to display a sign noting
that it’s illegal to feed deer in New York.

The containment area now includes the Oneida County towns of
Rome, Sherrill, Utica, Annsville, Augusta, Floyd, Kirkland, Lee,
Marcy, New Hartford, Trenton, Vernon, Verona, Vienna, Western,
Westmoreland, and Whitestown, as well as three towns in Madison
County – Lenox, Oneida, and Stockbridge.

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