Foolish to declare chronic wasting disease not a problem in Pennsylvania

I’m amazed at how people are capable of deluding themselves into certain beliefs, perspectives and opinions that have no basis in fact, yet they hold them as truths.

Case in point: letters to the editor in recent issues of Pennsylvania Outdoor News. One writer opined that a virus that was killing bass was not fatal for some fish, and he claimed that the same holds true with deer and CWD. He believes that the deer herd will grow in numbers with the ability to resist CWD if  “left alone” to develop immunity to the disease.

Another writer believes the Game Commission is using CWD as an excuse to reduce the deer herd.

A third writer complains the Game Commission’s decision to cull 170 whitetails by means of sharpshooters yielded no deer with any signs of infection. His letter speaks of his belief that people in general, and the Game Commission in particular, are panicking over CWD, and that maybe CWD is just nature’s way of culling the herd. And he insists that all will be fine if we just leave nature alone.

Their positions are misguided at best; silly at worst.

No genetic markers have been found in any tested cervid animals anywhere that indicate a potential genetic resistance to CWD.

A recent email from the Quality Deer Management Association included an article that asked if deer are indeed developing resistance to CWD. The answer, no. A particular study has shown that certain deer may have a bit more resistance to CWD, but only in the form that it may take a bit longer for them to contact the disease, and may take a bit longer to kill them.

But any cervid that does contact CWD is facing certain death. It should be noted here that those deer that possess the genotype for more resistance, living a bit longer, also present an increased chance to expose more healthy deer to the disease because of that extended life.

It is beyond logic to believe the Game Commission would want to reduce deer numbers just to do so without strong scientific purpose. Deer hunting is the agency’s biggest hunting product. The commission’s leaders for sure don’t want to lose that.

This isn’t just a Pennsylvania problem, it’s a national problem, and could eventually become a world problem. As such, the public had better get behind wildlife management agencies and support them by adhering to their rules and advice, and provide the money necessary to help them fight CWD.

Deluding oneself into believing this isn’t a problem, and responding by turning a blind eye to what CWD really is, is helping create a future where cervid animals are rare and hunting won’t be accepted.

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

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