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EDITORIAL: Remain vigilant on CWD

York Dispatch

Deer hunters have had an extra worry the last three seasons.

After taking a deer in the northern part of York County, hunters had to deliver the deer's head and backbone to a state facility to be tested for chronic wasting disease.

The testing became mandatory in 2012 after two deer on an Adams County farm were discovered to have the disease, and one of those deer had spent some time on a farm in Washington Township, York County.

The state Game Commission has tested deer in some areas since 1998, with 52,000 tests and only 11 positive results.

Chronic wasting disease in deer and elk has been compared to mad cow disease in cattle. Infected animals have a dropped head, excessive thirst, down ears and a lack of fear of humans.

The results are in for the most recent hunting season. Out of 4,266 deer tested in the state, 520 of those from York County, six were found to be infected, and those deer, all killed by vehicles, were in the western part of the state.

York County deer were also clear in 2013. In fact, no deer here have tested positive since the initial ones in 2012.

That means hunters can now skip the testing, although they still are not allowed to move the high-risk parts of the carcass out of the disease management area.

Local hunters deserve some credit for stopping the spread of this disease, which has been found in large swaths of land in the West and Midwest, according to the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance.

After initial confusion about exactly where the disease management area was and a limited number of state testing facilities, they stepped up, followed the regulations and helped ensure the disease didn't infect local wild populations.

The next step is to keep up that vigilance and remove the disease from the state.