It’s absurd to deny CWD dangers in Pennsylvania deer

In his column in the last issue of Pennsylvania Outdoor News, the editor wrote about the growing problem that chronic wasting disease is bringing to the leaders and staff of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, referring to the spread of infection by means of a wild whitetail buck in Clearfield County, and an increase in the number of infected deer in Bedford and Blair counties.

He also wrote of three bull elk crossing Interstate 80 and moving into Disease Management Area 3, which has necessitated their elimination before they could return to other elk populations with possible infections. As I write this, one of these three bulls has been shot by a commission conservation officer. Results of tests for CWD are not back yet. The other two bulls likely aready returned to the elk range.

As bad as that news is, it was the end section of the aforementioned column that shook me. It was in regard to recent research that suggests humans could indeed become infected with CWD because a study using macaque monkeys showed the disease infected the primates after eating meat tainted with CWD prions. (I would like to know more about the circumstance of the study, such as was the meat cooked? How much was eaten? …)

But it was the editor’s mention of a reader referring to him as an alarmist because he dared to ask what would happen to deer hunting if hunting families no longer would consume venison because of fear of becoming infected with CWD.

The most alarming aspect of this is that there are people who are able to “push aside” any worries about what CWD could possibly do if it does indeed spread rapidly through the commonwealth, plus is found to be deadly to humans as well as the animals it infects.

I hear all too often statements like “It’s not near me so I’m not worried.” Or, “They (whoever they’re referring to as ‘they’) have no idea what they’re talking about, and they’re only trying to scare us off from deer hunting.”

I do not lie. I’ve heard these statements.

Denial is not going to change the condition that confronts not only Pennsylvania people and animals, but people and animals across North America and possibly South America, with the complexity and end result of CWD. Believing it confined, or even not true, will not change what this disease is and what harm it can do if allowed to move through populations of cervid species without the fullest attempt to stop its spread and hopefully eradicate it.

This problem, this horrible dilemma, is as serious a threat ever seen by hunting and hunters alike — and perhaps a threat to the general public, too, as it develops.

I don’t think I am exaggerating, but if I am, it’s not by much.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, CWD, Pennsylvania – Ron Steffe, Whitetail Deer

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