From the start of 2014 through the present, six additional cases of chronic wasting disease have been documented in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Game Commission announced today.
All six deer to test positive were killed on highways within Disease Management Area 2 (DMA 2), the only area of the state where chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been detected in free-ranging deer.
None of the samples collected from deer or elk harvested by hunters anywhere in the state during the 2014-15 hunting seasons tested positive for CWD, and no road-killed deer or elk from outside DMA 2 tested positive.
Additionally, no new cases have been detected in captive deer or elk outside the borders of an established Disease Management Area (DMA).
However, the boundary of DMA 2 again has been expanded because CWD-positive deer detected within DMA 2 or in Maryland were near previous boundaries. Pennsylvania’s CWD Response Plan requires a 10-mile buffer around sites associated with positive tests.
DMA 2 now encompasses parts of Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Huntington, Fulton and Somerset counties.
CWD is not known to afflict humans, but is always fatal to the deer and elk it infects.
Sampling in 2014-15
The Game Commission sampled 4,266 deer statewide during 2014. Of these, 1,701 were from DMAs.
DMA 1 (York and Adams counties) accounted for 520 samples, 938 samples came from DMA 2, and there were 243 samples from DMA 3 (Clearfield, Indiana and Jefferson counties).
Additionally, the Game Commission sampled 89 elk for CWD in 2014, and no positives were detected.
In Pennsylvania, monitoring for CWD continues year-round and since the start of 2015, 253 additional samples have been collected. One of these tested positive, and is counted among the six additional positives within DMA 2.
The six additional CWD-positive deer brings the total to 11 free-ranging CWD-positive deer detected in Pennsylvania. All of these have been within DMA 2.
Overall, the proportion of deer to test positive remains small.
Since 1998, the Game Commission has collected and submitted more than 52,000 wild deer and elk for CWD testing, with a total of 11 positive tests.
DMA 2 expands
While most of the six additional CWD cases were centralized within DMA 2, two of the positive deer came from sites near what previously was DMA 2’s western boundary.
One of them, an 18-month-old male deer, was struck and killed by a vehicle on Route 220 in November in Bedford County. The other, a 30-month-old female, was killed in March on state Route 56, also in Bedford County.
In response to those positives, and in accordance with Pennsylvania’s CWD Response Plan, the boundary of DMA 2 again has been adjusted, and DMA 2 now contains parts of Somerset County, in addition to other counties.
The new DMA 2 boundary is as follows: Beginning in the southeastern extent of the DMA at the intersection of state Route 655 and the Maryland state line, proceed north on Route 655 for approximately 57 miles to the intersection of U.S. Route 22. The DMA boundary follows U.S. Route 22 west for 16.6 miles to state Route 453, then south along state Route 453 for 9 miles to Tyrone. In Tyrone, the boundary follows the western, southbound lane of Interstate 99 for 6.5 miles to state Route 865 at Bellwood. Follow state Route 865 west 2.75 miles to Grandview Road (state Route 4015). Follow Grandview Road south 6.4 miles to Juniata Gap Road in Altoona. Follow Juniata Gap Road 4 miles to Skyline Drive. Follow Skyline Drive approximately 2 miles to state Route 36. Follow state Route 36 west 1.5 miles to Coupon-Gallitzin Road (state Route 1015). Follow Coupon-Gallitzin Road south 5 ¼ miles to U.S. Route 22. Follow U.S. Route 22 west for approximately 4 miles to state Route 53. Follow state Route 53 south 9.3 miles to state Route 160. Follow state Route 160 south 45.4 miles to the borough of Berlin, take Main Street (state Route 2030) west through downtown Berlin for 0.44 miles, then south along state Route 219 for 20 miles to the Maryland border.
A map of the newly expanded DMA 2 is available on the CWD Information page at the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.state.pa.us. Because the boundaries of DMAs change in response to new positives being detected, the website is always the best source for the most up-to-date DMA maps and descriptions.
DMA 2 Antlerless Deer Permits
The Game Commission in the 2015-16 license year again will issue special permits for taking antlerless deer within DMA 2.
DMA 2 Antlerless Deer Permits will become available at the same time antlerless licenses go on sale.
The DMA 2 permits were created as a way to direct hunting pressure to DMA 2. The permits seek to increase the antlerless deer harvest within DMA 2 by one deer per square mile.
A total of 13,500 permits have been allocated and the permits can be used only within DMA 2, which includes parts of Bedford, Blair, Huntingdon, Cambria, Fulton and Somerset counties.
Hunters may apply for DMA 2 permits in addition regular antlerless deer licenses. Obtaining one or more DMA 2 permits does not reduce the number of antlerless deer licenses for which a hunter may apply.
There are some differences between the application process for a DMA 2 permit and that for an antlerless license.
Only residents and nonresidents ages 12 and older with valid general hunting licenses may apply for permits. Participants in Mentored Youth and Mentored Adult hunting programs are ineligible to apply, and the permits cannot be transferred to participants in those programs.
Each permit costs $6.70, and payments must be made by credit card, check or money order made payable to the “Pennsylvania Game Commission.”
Applications for DMA 2 permits will be accepted in two ways – electronically through the Game Commission’s Outdoor Shop, http://www.theoutdoorshop.state.pa.us, or by mail. Those wishing to send applications by mail can obtain an application form at the Game Commission’s website, the agency’s Harrisburg headquarters or any region office.
The application schedule is similar to that for antlerless deer licenses, however, residents and nonresidents can apply on the same dates in all rounds.
Applications will be accepted beginning Monday, July 13. Each eligible applicant may submit one application during this first round, which lasts three weeks.
Beginning Aug. 3, a second round of application begins. Again in the second round, each eligible applicant may submit one application. However, an applicant who did not submit an application during the first round may submit two during the second round.
A third round of applications will begin Aug. 17. Eligible applicants may submit an unlimited number of applications during this round, and the round will continue until all permits have been issued.
A DMA 2 permit can be used to harvest an antlerless deer during any deer season, including the antlered deer season.
Those who are issued DMA 2 permits are required to submit reports, regardless of whether they harvest a deer. Hunters who take a deer with a DMA 2 permit must report within 10 days; those who don’t must report by Feb. 2. Those who fail to report as required are subject to criminal prosecution and may be ineligible to apply for permits if the program is continued the following year.
Through their reports, hunters provide valuable data that plays a crucial role in the Game Commission’s management of CWD.
Rules within DMAs
Those who hunt or live within established Disease Management Areas need to be aware of special rules that apply to the hunting, processing and feeding of deer.
Hunters harvesting deer within any DMA are not permitted to remove from the DMA any deer parts with a high risk of transmitting the disease. There are a few exceptions to this rule, including taking a deer to an approved deer processor or taxidermist outside the DMA, or traveling to an approved laboratory for disease testing.
The possession of urine-based deer attractants also is prohibited within any DMA, as is the direct or indirect feeding of deer. The feeding of elk is unlawful everywhere in Pennsylvania.
A complete list of rules applying to DMAs can be found in a Game Commission executive order, which also is available at the agency’s website.
The head and spinal column are among the identified high-risk parts that cannot be removed from a DMA. Meat and antlers can be removed, so long as the backbone is separated from the meat and left behind, and the skull plate attached to the antlers is free of visible brain material.
A complete list of high-risk parts is available at the Game Commission’s website.
Many hunters who harvest deer within DMAs take their deer to processors and taxidermists within those DMAs in order to comply with the law. Those who do their own processing may remove and safely dispose of high-risk parts in dumpsters placed on game lands tracts within the DMA. Sites are identified prior to hunting seasons.
While chronic wasting disease is relatively new to Pennsylvania, it is not a new disease. CWD was discovered in 1967, and it has been researched in great detail since then.
CWD affects members of the cervid, or deer family. It is spread from animal to animal by direct and indirect contact.
There currently is no practical way to test live animals for CWD, nor is there a vaccine. Clinical signs include poor posture, lowered head and ears, uncoordinated movement, rough-hair coat, weight loss, increased thirst, excessive drooling, and, ultimately death. Any animals suspected of having CWD should be reported to the Game Commission.
There currently is no scientific evidence that CWD has or can spread to humans, either through contact with infected animals or by eating the meat of infected animals. As a precaution, however, people are advised not to consume meat from animals infected with CWD.
Much more information on CWD, as well as a video instructing hunters on how they can process venison for transport and consumption, is available at the Game Commission’s website.