People who hunt deer within parts of Lancaster, Lebanon and Berks counties now need to comply with special rules intended to slow the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD).
The Pennsylvania Game Commission Wednesday established Disease Management Area 4 (DMA 4) in response to a CWD-positive deer recently detected at a captive deer farm in Lancaster County.
DMA 4 encompasses 346 square miles in northeastern Lancaster County, southeastern Lebanon County and western Berks County. The northern part of DMA 4 runs roughly between the cities of Lebanon and Reading. The DMA includes the boroughs of Adamstown, Denver, Ephrata, Mohnton, Richland, Womelsdorf and Wyomissing. State Game Lands 46, 220, 225, 274 and 425 are included in DMA 4.
Special rules: Within DMAs, special rules apply. The intentional feeding of deer is prohibited. Hunters may not use urine-based deer attractants or possess them while afield. And hunters who harvest deer within a DMA may not transport the carcass outside the DMA without first removing and properly disposing of all high-risk deer parts, including the head and backbone.
While the rules might pose an inconvenience, they are meant to slow the spread of CWD, which so far has been detected in only a few parts of the state.
“CWD is an increasing problem in Pennsylvania, and as the disease emerges in new areas, more Pennsylvanians are impacted,” said Game Commission executive director Bryan Burhans in a news release. “To this point, however, CWD has been detected in captive or free-ranging deer only in a few, isolated areas of the state. That’s good news for all Pennsylvanians who enjoy deer and deer hunting. And we continue to focus our resources on ways to minimize CWD’s impacts statewide.”
CWD, which is always fatal to deer, elk and other cervids, first was detected in Pennsylvania in 2012 at a captive deer farm in Adams County. CWD has been detected among free-ranging deer in two areas of the state.
The first DMA included part of York County: After CWD was detected in 2012 at a captive deer farm in Adams County, the Game Commission established Disease Management Area 1 (DMA 1), a nearly 600-square-mile area in Adams and York counties, in which restrictions regarding the hunting and feeding of deer applied.
In 2017, the Game Commission eliminated DMA 1 after five years of monitoring, which included the testing of 4,800 wild deer. CWD never was found in the wild within DMA 1.
In addition to establishing DMA 4, the Game Commission will increase its CWD sampling there.
Within DMA 4, the agency will begin testing all known road-killed deer for CWD. Come hunting season, bins for the collection of deer heads and other high-risk deer parts will be placed in areas for the public to use. Hunters who deposit the heads of the deer they harvest in designated collection bins will be able to have their deer tested, free of charge. And DMAP permits for use within DMA 4 will be available for purchase.
Wayne Laroche, the Game Commission’s special assistant for CWD response, said increased sampling within DMA 4 is necessary to find out whether CWD exists among free-ranging deer there, and adjust the response accordingly.
“We need to know the full extent of the CWD problem in any area where the disease exists,” Laroche said in the news release. “We have not detected CWD among free-ranging deer in DMA 4, and maybe we won’t. But if CWD is out there, we surely need to know about it to confront it head-on.”
Other DMA areas: DMA 2 encompasses more than 2,845 square miles in parts of Adams, Bedford, Blair Cambria, Clearfield, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon and Somerset counties.
DMA 3 encompasses about 350 square miles in parts of Clearfield, Indiana and Jefferson counties.
Information on CWD and Pennsylvania’s DMAs, including maps of all DMAs, is available at www.pgc.pa.gov.
Information for this story was provided by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.