Targeting deer in known CWD-infected areas in Pennsylvania with sharpshooters – a good idea

Chronic Wasting Disease is likely here to stay in the Keystone State. The always-fatal disease might greatly reduce deer numbers across the state. And then there is the prospect of observing sick and dying deer while we are hunting.

Test results released by the Pennsylvania Game Commission in May confirmed that CWD has moved farther north into Blair County and east towards Franklin County. Unfortunately, this is to be expected when we see what has happened in other states, but the progression is certainly not welcomed. In response, the Game Commission has expanded Disease Management Area 2 by 18 percent.

Now the Pennsylvania Game Commission is proposing to use sharpshooters this winter to remove deer in CWD “hotspots” in Bedford and Blair counties. All areas are in the agency’s Disease Management Area 2 – the only place in the state where CWD has been detected in wild deer.

Is this really necessary?

According to the Game Commission, fewer than two percent of the deer in Disease Management Area 2 have been shown to have the always fatal CWD. Some other states are now looking at infection rates of 40 percent or more.

After interviewing Wayne Laroche, director of the Game Commission’s Bureau of Wildlife Management, it became apparent to me that he has done his homework with the CWD issue. Illinois uses sharpshooters to cull deer in select areas each winter. They have been effective at keeping the rate of CWD in that state to about 1 percent.

Some hunters and other citizens might balk at the idea of using sharpshooters to cull deer in the areas with the highest infection. Or maybe they will accept the idea until they hear the rifle reports at night in January. The Game Commission is concerned, and rightly so, that deer culls will not be accepted by the public.   

Hunters need to be part of the solution – not the problem. Using sharpshooters to cull deer in highly suspected CWD areas might not sound good, but it should help to slow or stop the spread of the disease. I support the idea and it would be in your best interest to support it, too.

Categories: CWD, Hunting News, Pennsylvania – Mark Nale, Whitetail Deer

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