York County deer cleared of chronic wasting disease

York Dispatch
The state Game Commission earlier this month dissolved York County's deer management program area — established in 2012 after a farm-raised deer at a captive facility tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease — meaning only general hunting regulations apply.


During five years of testing 4,800 wild deer within a regulated York County boundary, the Pennsylvania Game Commission said it never found any indication that deer or elk in that area had acquired chronic wasting disease, according to a recently released commission report. 

As a result, the commission earlier this month dissolved York's deer management program area — established in 2012 after a farm-raised deer at a captive facility tested positive for the disease — meaning only general hunting regulations apply.

"Although this change lifts the ban on feeding and the use of deer-urine lures in this area, the Pennsylvania Game Commission still recommends people refrain from these activities," the report states. "These activities can concentrate deer and increase risk of disease spreading between deer."

Designated areas abutting York's former deer management program have been expanded significantly in 2017, the commission reports. 

Chronic wasting disease does not afflict humans. It is comparable to mad cow disease, with symptoms that include a dropped head, excessive thirst, down ears and lack of fear of humans. 

The commission tested 4,266 Pennsylvania deer in 2014. Of those, 520 samples were from deer killed in York or Adams counties, but none returned positive results.

Eighty-nine elk killed in 2014 in the state also were tested, but none were positive for the disease.

Since 1998, the Game Commission has tested more than 52,000 wild deer and elk for CWD, with a total of 11 positive tests.

The disease was detected locally in two deer on a deer farm in Adams County in 2012. One of the deer also once lived at a farm in Washington Township, York County.

Following the positive local tests, the state required testing on deer harvested in a disease management area that included most of northern York County.

To stave off the spread of the disease, the commission regulated Pennsylvania's deer herd in 2012. The disease slowly spread, which caused the state to take a harder look at how to prevent momentum of the fatal disease. Deer in western parts of the state were also found to have tested positive. 

Knowing that several neighboring states also were dealing with the spread of CWD, the agency charged with protecting the state's wildlife made it illegal to bring certain "high risk" deer parts into Pennsylvania from New York, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.