Time again to examine chronic wasting disease in Pennsylvania

Deer Buck New Pgc
(Joe Kosack/PGC photo)

Throughout Pennsylvania, America and the world for that matter, we’ve all been faced with the problems caused by the COVID-19 virus. It would be virtually impossible for anyone to truthfully declare that thoughts of this disease have not crossed his or her mind at some time or another.

Dealing with the tribulations of everyday living with the virus in mind, along with handling all the additional aspects of daily life, can often push future problems out of mind until another time.

In case it’s been momentarily forgotten by both deer and elk hunters within this state, plus those who simply enjoy watching these animals, it is time once again to consider chronic wasting disease and the threat it creates for these cervid mammals.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s recently released initiative to further combat CWD is a reminder that this deadly disease is still very much a problem that must be dealt with if the herds of elk and deer within Pennsylvania are to be protected from a steep decline.

Apart from the commission’s new plan, the agency has also announced appreciation for the state Department of Agriculture — which is responsible for the management of captive cervid farms — and the new regulations that department implemented in August to contain the spread of CWD from captive cervid facilities within Bedford, Blair and Fulton counties, while still allowing “deer farms” to remain in business.

This particular portion of the state is where CWD is rampant.

The new CWD plan, drawn up by the Game Commission in July, covers many aspects of reducing the spread of the disease. One part of the proposed plan provides for deer harvested in the CWD zones to be tested quickly if hunters drop the head of the dead animal in the numerous special collection bins spread over the areas. This action will insure a fast determination if CWD is present in that particular animal, and help determine the reach of the spread and density of the disease.

Lowering deer density in and near the borders of these areas is deemed an important way to lower the risk of CWD spread outside the established disease zones, and the quick gathering of information about where the disease is spreading, plus the cooperation of hunters in helping with information collection, is considered critically important if the spread is to be slowed, or hopefully stopped.

The Game Commission is counting on hunters to help fight CWD, because in reality, the future of deer and elk hunting here depends on it. Those who doubt and deny CWD even exists are taking a fool’s path to this problem. The most profound truth to all of this is that once elk or deer have been infected with CWD, death is a certainty. The best hope we can give our deer and elk herds for a fair chance at survival is to follow and fully trust the science. There is simply no other way if we want these animals in our future.

Categories: CWD, Pennsylvania – Ron Steffe, Whitetail Deer

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