While watching Pennsylvania, New York maintains CWD vigilance
No CWD in New York state.
It’s shocking but true. Pennsylvania, meanwhile, has seen a dramatic increase in the number of cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in the state’s deer herd last year. The increase is striking because it represents a 200 percent spike in the number of diseased deer found so far in the Commonwealth.
In 2016-17, 25 cases were documented, while in 2017-18, the number rose to 78. The overall deer take in the Keystone State last year was about 367,000, so the number of deer discovered with CWD is only a small percentage of the total. Nevertheless, this increase in the number of deer discovered with the disease is of grave concern to biologists, not only in Pennsylvania, but here in New York as well.
Here is what biologists do know about the disease. Once a deer gets CWD it will die. The disease spreads geographically and its prevalence increases with time. CWD is caused by abnormal proteins called prions and they bind to the soil where they are taken up into plants and remain infectious in the environment for years. The prions that cause the disease are found in deer and elk urine, saliva and feces.
Dave Nelson, director of outreach and promotion in the DEC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, recently alerted us to the new informational document on CWD entitled, “New York State Chronic Wasting Disease: Prevention-Surveillance-Response.” The document was written in cooperation with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and is designed to inform hunters about the basic facts of CWD and what they can do to prevent its spread and, just as important, what the DEC is doing to protect New York’s deer herds and our hunting legacy.
There is a lot at stake here because in states where CWD has been present for many years, deer and elk populations declined. Deer hunting here in New York represents a $1.5 billion economic value to rural communities and small businesses throughout the state.
So far New York’s deer herd has dodged a bullet (no pun intended) and no CWD has been discovered since 2005, when it was detected in two captive deer facilities and subsequently in two wild whitetails from that area (seven whitetails in all). Intensive surveillance by the DEC since then has not identified any additional cases in that area or in the rest of the state for that matter.
For a copy of the document, click here. Copies may also be obtained at DEC regional wildlife offices.