CWD remains ticking time bomb
The first case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Pennsylvania was confirmed a few weeks ago in a three-year-old doe raised on a game farm in New Oxford, Adams County. The disease may have links to another game farm near Williamsport, near the middle of the state and another in the southern part in Dover, York County. The infected doe was born on one game farm, moved to another and then moved again to the farm near New Oxford, where she died.
Most states and Canadian provinces where CWD has been documented in wild deer are home to captive deer facilities. Since captive deer are routinely moved from farm to farm, there is the potential that unidentified deer with the disease may be unknowingly transported across state lines or among farms where captive deer are raised. As a result, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has designated a nearly 600-square-mile area around Adams and York counties where the disease has been found as a special disease management area carrying special restrictions.
Because of this discovery, New York isn’t taking any chances. As of October, New York hunters were prohibited from importing certain parts of deer or elk taken in the state of Pennsylvania into New York. Hunters who take one of these animals are now required to butcher or have the animal butchered by a meat processor in Pennsylvania and only the meat and none of the spinal chord or brain may be brought back. New York officials say the action is necessary because it is believed the movement of infected brain and spinal material may be one of the primary routes of transmission for CWD. Hopefully all successful New York hunters who travel to the Keystone State are in compliance with this regulation because it is designed to protect New York’s populations of deer and moose from contracting this disease.
To some sportsmen this looks like a overreaction by the DEC and a drastic and perhaps unneeded step to a problem that seems so far away, but in my opinion the decision is a prudent and wise choice to make. Burning, melting, or rendering deer parts will not destroy the prion causing CWD and, as I understand it, once CWD is established it is impossible or nearly so to eradicate. CWD is attacking time bomb and some say it's only a matter of time before it again spreads to New York. Let’s hope that time is far in the future.