All the acronyms getting hunters, anglers down in Pennsylvania
Is disease fatigue setting in?
That crossed my mind recently while editing a story about the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s plan to try to keep a highly contagious, deadly virus out of Pennsylvania’s wild rabbit populations after the disease was confirmed in domestic bunnies in Fayette County. It’s called rabbit hemorrhagic disease, or RHDV.
Reminded me of a note we got from a reader a couple of months ago. He wrote, “Give us a break, man! Stop writing about all the bad stuff affecting our game and fish. It’s like depressing alphabet soup! I just want to read about huntin’ and fishin’.”
I thought he was joking, but maybe he wasn’t.
After all, on top of COVID turning our world upside down in recent years, we have chronic wasting disease and epizootic hemorrhagic disease — CWD and EHD — infecting deer; West Nile virus, or WNV, wiping out grouse; high path avian flu, or HPAI, killing raptors and maybe turkeys; and mange afflicting bears.
We’ve got so much mercury in our fish we should no longer eat them – even if we wanted to overlook the microplastics in their flesh; gill lice stalking our wild brook trout; terrifying “forever chemicals,” or PFAS and PFOS, in our water, fish and wildlife; and chytrid fungus disease, or CFD, killing the frogs and salamanders.
We’ve reported on white nose syndrome, or WNS, decimating our cave-dwelling bats; rock snot fungus coating our stream bottoms; whirling disease in our fish hatcheries; toxic algae blooms killing aquatic life (and occasionally pets) and snake fungal disease, or SFD, threatening our timber rattlers.
We can’t forget our crazy infestation of ticks and the diseases they spread, including Lyme and the deadly new (here) deer tick virus, or DTV. After all, Pennsylvania leads the country in Lyme disease cases. Then there was the mysterious malady that massacred so many songbirds last year. Scientists never did figure out what it was or put a name — or an acronym — to it.
And I suppose in this list of troubling stories we’ve covered we should include invasive species like the fungus that caused chestnut blight and the emerald ash borer beetle (EAB), that wiped out ash — two of our most important forest tree species.
Wow, what a list. Like you, I’m sure, I long for a simpler time.