Hunters should be aware of regulations regarding chronic wasting disease

Anthony Maenza
York Dispatch

As hunters prepare to go after game like deer and elk this season, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is asking them to be aware of regulations prohibiting the movement of high-risk carcass parts to control the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease. 

These regulations will impact hunters going out of state this fall or those who hunt within Disease Management Areas and Chronic Wasting Disease Established Areas. 

Chronic Wasting Disease is a neurological disease that impacts cervids like deer, elk and moose. Pennsylvania first detected the disease in 2012 at a captive deer facility in Adams County.

The Game Commission has since tested more than 118,000 wild, free-ranging whitetails and more than 1,700 elk for the disease. To date, Chronic Wasting Disease has been found in about 1,000 deer. It has not been detected in Pennsylvania’s elk herd. 

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Hunters are prohibited from importing high-risk parts or materials from cervids harvested, taken or killed in any state or country outside Pennsylvania. In years past, the prohibition applied only to those parts from animals taken in states and provinces known to have Chronic Wasting Disease. 

A white-tailed buck silhouetted against a sunset. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Those parts include the brain, tonsils, eyes and lymph nodes; the spinal cord/backbone; spleen; and skull plate with attached antlers. 

Hunters are prohibited from moving high-risk parts outside of any Disease Management Area or Chronic Wasting Disease Established Area. That includes moving high-risk parts from one area to another. These regulations also apply to deer killed in vehicle collisions and picked up for consumption.

More information can be found at www.arcg.is/1G4TLr. Visitors to that site can find statistics on Chronic Wasting Disease, maps and boundary descriptions of the Established Area and each Disease Management Area, and more. 

That site also lists the location of Chronic Wasting Disease testing bins. Hunters who harvest a deer within the Established Area or any of the Disease Management Areas can place their head in one of those bins. Heads should be double-bagged, with antlers removed, and placed in a bin with the harvest tag legibly filled out and firmly attached to the ear.  

The Game Commission tests these deer for free and makes results available to hunters. Hunters can check their test results by calling the Chronic Wasting Disease hotline (1-833-INFOCWD), emailing infocwd@pa.gov, or by visiting the results lookup page at www.arcg.is/1G4TLr 

— Reach Anthony Maenza at amaenza@yorkdispatch.com or @atmaenza on Twitter. 

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