Deer with CWD found, management area in York County expands

Dante Green
York Dispatch

The discovery of a deer testing positive for chronic wasting disease is behind another expansion of Disease Management Area 2 in southcentral Pennsylvania.

The deer, an adult female, was found in Upper Mifflin Township in Cumberland County. CWA has not been seen to affect one gender more than other.

DMA 2 is expanding east into more of Cumberland, Adams and York counties. The change will be in effect for the upcoming hunting seasons, and hunters within the new DMA 2 boundaries will be required to comply with additional regulations designed to slow the spread of the disease. 

CWD continues to present a persistent problem for wildlife, hunters and farmers. CWD is a contagious disease that can spread among deer and elk. It affects the brain, nervous system and lymphoid tissues and is always fatal for the animal. It is spread from animal to animal through saliva, blood, urine and feces. 

More:York High fighting to put name among elites: 2022 football preview

More:Central and Susquehanna leagues begin their playoff finals, see who's ahead

More:Dallastown, K-D win nonleague matches in girls' tennis

Within DMAs it is unlawful to:

  • Remove or export any deer or elk high-risk parts (e.g., head, spinal column and spleen).
  • Use or possess deer or elk urine-based attractants.
  • Directly or indirectly feed wild, free-ranging deer. It is already illegal to feed elk regardless of DMA location.
  • Rehabilitate wild, free-ranging deer or elk.

The new boundary line for DMA 2 follows Route 134 north from the Maryland line for about 4 miles to the intersection of Route 15, then follows Route 15 north for 36.4 miles, crossing Route 581 where it becomes Route 11. It then follows Route 11 for 2.4 miles to where it meets the west shore of the Susquehanna River at Front Street. The boundary follows the Susquehanna River north for about 15.1 miles to Route 22.

Deer farm concerns: The continued management of the zones has created concerns among owners of commercial deer farms in Pennsylvania, who are worried that continued restrictions and increases in the size of these zones could spell the end of their business.

Groups have lobbied that deer farming is the root cause of CWD and will continue to spread as long as these establishments are around. 

The National Deer Alliance told the Governor’s Advisory Council on Hunting, Fishing and Conservation in March that transporting captive white-tailed deer among the farms is one of the root causes for the spread of CWD among wild herds.

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

Since the start of CWD restrictions within the state in 2014, Pennsylvania has seen drastically decreasing numbers of high-fence deer operations. They dropped from 1,200 in that year to 700 in 2021, a 42% decrease in only seven years. 

There is zero evidence indicating that CWD infects humans or any other species. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends not eating the meat of a CWD-positive deer. It has become imperative for hunters to test the deer they harvest and make sure they are not risking any disease to themselves or their families. 

Testing deer: The Game Commission said they monitor CWD by conducting road-killed deer surveillance year-round and testing samples from hunter-harvested whitetails.

Hunters can have deer tested for free by dropping the head in one of the Game Commission’s collection bins; the commission will announce the locations of the bins before hunting season begins.

Hunters can check those test results, and the public in general can see data on CWD distribution, prevalence and more, on the Game Commission’s CWD Surveillance Dashboard at https://pgcdatacollection.pa.gov/CWDResultsLookup. It’s updated weekly.

For more information about CWD or to ask questions, contact the Game Commission’s CWD Hotline at 1-833-INFOCWD, email INFOCWD@pa.gov or visit https://arcg.is/1G4TLr.