We'd better get this right
To this point I've shied away from the issue of chronic wasting disease, mainly because I just do not know enough about what should happen next.
Of course, plenty has been written already about the disease, but little that I've read offers what exactly the course of action should be for the Pennsylvania Game Commission to combat the most serious threat the state's deer herd has ever faced.
For those states where CWD has already become established in wild cervid populations, opinions seem to vary as to the next step to take for a place like Pennsylvania.
Wildlife scientists in areas where the infection exists say they have focused their research on understanding how the disease is transmitted, how rates of infection differ according to age and sex and locale, and for indications of genetic resistance to the disease.
Certainly, collaboration between state wildlife agencies, along with input from scientific studies conducted across North America, is critical. As the saying goes, no one can corner this market. All research and study will be important, along with unreserved sharing of the facts.
I recently read that the Game Commission will increase antlerless licenses for the management units encompassing Bedford and Blair Counties where CWD has seemingly become established, hoping for a higher number of harvested deer. In this manner, commission officials intend to determine how far the infection has already spread.
That's a starting point.
Across the vast fields and woodlands of the commonwealth, does will soon be dropping their fawns. A new generation of whitetails born, facing a future with ills no generation before them here has known.
I hope, for the sake of deer and the Pennsylvanians who are so devoted to them, we find a way to limit the spread of CWD in the state's deer herd.
I believe we can't afford to fail.