Deer hunting has become more complicated with the emergence of chronic wasting disease, but hunters might be relieved that this year's rules won't require them to take their deer to checking stations for testing.

The checking stations were required last year because part of York is included in one of two of Disease Management Areas where special restrictions apply.

York is still within the monitoring area, but the rules are less stringent than last year because testing showed the disease already exists in the wild, said state Game Commission spokesman Travis Lau.

"Now we know it's in the wild, so it's no longer a case of trying to prevent it," he said. "Now we're just trying to determine the prevalence and manage it because we realize we no longer can stop it from getting there."

The state's Game Commission will announce all changes for this year's deer season during an upcoming meeting, Lau said. They include the prohibition of transporting high-risk deer parts outside the monitoring area.

Deer harvested in the part of York that's inside the management area can't be transported outside of the area unless the high-risk parts - the head and backbone, essentially - are removed, Lau said.

Dumpsters in which to discard the high-risk parts will be provided on state gamelands in Dillsburg and East Berlin for people who need them, he said.

The Game Commission will collect about 1,000 samples to test this year, with those samples coming from participating meat processors and, possibly, the dumpsters, he said.

Hunters who want a clean test on their deer before eating it will have to have their deer tested on their own, at the Department of Agriculture veterinary lab in Harrisburg, Lau said.

"And that's an exception to the high-risk-parts transport rule," he said.

CWD has been called the deer equivalent of mad cow disease, with symptoms include a dropped head, excessive thirst, down ears, and lack of fear of humans.

Last year, the disease turned up in two deer at an Adams County farm, one of which was once kept at a Dover Township deer farm. As a result, hunters in York's 600-square-mile management area, which includes Adams County, were mandated to take their harvests to testing stations.

Chronic wasting disease wasn't found in any of the nearly 2,100 wild deer samples tested from York and Adams counties last year, but the fatal deer disease will continue to affect the local hunter's experience for the coming seasons.

Though the disease wasn't found in York's wild deer population, Game Commission procedure calls for continuing the management area restrictions for five years.

The current disease monitoring area's boundary line bisects York County, with most areas north of Routes 116, 30, and 462 included. Deer killed in areas south of the boundary didn't have to be checked last year.

Officials are expected to explain the coming season's rules at a 6:15 p.m. meeting Tuesday, Sept. 17 at Central York High School, 601 Mundis Mill Road.

- Staff writer Christina Kauffman can also be reached at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.