New York's response to the discovery of chronic wasting disease in a single – one, count 'em, one – deer earlier this month, in a captive deer at that, and in the southernmost part of the Keystone State is going to be one big headache for New York hunters who pursue Pa. whitetails this season.
That's if the New York hunters who score on a buck or doe across the border in Pennsylvania choose to abide by (or are even aware of) New York's regs that now restrict the transport of hunter-killer whitetails from Pa. back home to New York.
The new regulations state that hunters taking a deer in Pennsylvania cannot transport certain parts of the whitetail (the brain, spinal cord, etc.) back home to New York. What that essentially means is that New York hunters are required to butcher their Pa.-killed deer at a processor in that state and, if they're interested in getting the animal mounted, will have to use a taxidermist from outside New York because of the transport restrictions.
Hey, nobody has ever accused New York of being business-friendly. But if I was a butcher or taxidermist in New York I'd be steaming. And trust me, as a guy who grew up on the border, I know how many New York hunters hit Pa. for whitetails, and how much business deer processors and taxidermists along the border in New York get from hunters who fill a tag in Pa.
It's a terrible over-reaction to the discovery of CWD in a single, captive whitetail, in a county that's a heck of a lot closer to Maryland and West Virginia than New York state. Don't believe me: go online to Mapquest and search for New Oxford, Pa., in Adams County, where the CWD discovery was made. That's nearly 200 miles away from some towns that lie along the New York-Pennsylvania border, places like Waverly in Tioga County and Port Jervis in Orange County.
DEC soft-shoed the regs announcement, with Commissioner Joe Martens stating in a news release that "most successful hunters already opt to budget a deer and put the meat in a cooler before traveling back to New York." I beg to differ. There are scores of hunters along the border who simply have to drive a few miles into Pa. to their hunting spot. There are plenty of butchers on the New York side of the border who, if the hunters abide by the new regs, won't be able to give them their business. Ditto for the taxidermists, including one I used three years ago when I finally bagged a wallhanger about a mile inside the Pa. line.
Between the ignorance of the new regs and hunters' opposition to it, I'm guessing this one won't be followed to a T. And if DEC steps up patrols and doles out a few citations for illegal transport of a Pa. whitetail, there will be some serious squawking.
And I would understand completely. One deer, inside a fence, well over 100 miles away from any slice of the New York border, has prompted DEC to simply tack on its existing CWD regs which restrict transport from other states where CWD has been discovered.
DEC officials should get out a map and look for New Oxford, Pa. Or get out of their office at 625 Broadway and drive along the New York-Pennsylvania border and talk to taxidermists and meat processors on the Empire State side of the line.
And, oh yeah, ask hunters about their Pennsylvania deer hunting excursions and how the new regs will impact their experience.