Battle lines over CWD in Pennsylvania seem to be forming

Seems to be a lot of news recently in publications printed in Pennsylvania, plus the Internet, concerning chronic wasting disease in whitetail deer in this state. Those articles are stirring responses aplenty from the reading public.

Rejoinder and comeback from readers is good, because it shows there to be a genuine interest in this difficult situation. Primary response comes mostly from the deer hunting fraternity, but there are also many non-hunters who share a deep concern for the deer and elk populations they’ve come to love, and this deadly sickness the animals now face.

The one unyielding fact of CWD is that when members of the cervid animal family (which includes deer, elk, moose and potentially caribou in relation to North America) contact the disease, death is certain. There is no going back, no recovery, no hope. Sickened animals will die.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission had proposed a plan — and was ready to initiate it — to reduce deer numbers by about 1,000 in Bedford and Blair counties, which fall under Deer Management Area 2. This plan seemed headed toward implication until some private land owners and “concerned sportsmen” became well-organized in opposition to the commission’s strategy.

By getting both state and federal congressmen involved, they stopped, at least temporally, the deer cull. Beyond that, they’ve arranged for nationally recognized deer expert James Kroll (known as Doctor Deer) to host a seminar in Hollidaysburg, Pa., on July 13.

Kroll is basically in disagreement with any culling approach of whitetails to combat CWD (I wrote of this man and his ideas on CWD in a previous blog, posted March 27, 2019). It should be noted that Kroll served as a member of Wisconsin’s deer trustees in 2011 and 2012, and persuaded at that time the state’s game officials to ease away from serious culling as a tool to fight CWD. It should also be noted that the particular strategy suggested by Kroll has not helped Wisconsin with its CWD problem, as it has progressed to become one of the worst in the country, with high infection rates of CWD in its deer population.

Still, many Pennsylvania residents seem to have sided with this man and his ideas.

On the other side of the fence are those who are in agreement with the Game Commission and the agency’s planned attack on CWD, which includes heavy culling of deer in problem areas.

Of course there remains many who sit in the middle of this problem, not certain what to believe, or what course of action they could support to combat CWD in the best possible manner.

I’m certain of one thing, and I mentioned this above: CWD will kill the deer and elk in Pennsylvania that contact the disease, and everywhere else for that matter, without exception. The people responsible for offering the best protection of our state’s herds of these animals had better make the right decisions when it comes to minimizing the distress to cervid animals here. There will be no second chance.

There can be no escape from using optimum, confirmed and sound scientific research concerning this disease, and sticking with known facts when a disease management choice is made. Even if it is temporarily painful, the end result is of the highest priority. The deer and elk in this state deserve nothing less.

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

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