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The number of chronic wasting disease cases continues to multiply in Pennsylvania, and more of the state’s residents are being impacted by rules that aim to slow the spread of the disease, which always is fatal to the deer and elk it infects.

In 2017, chronic wasting disease (CWD) was detected in 78 free-ranging deer in Pennsylvania.

That’s more than three times the number of free-ranging, CWD-positive deer documented in the state in 2016, when 25 were detected.

Most of the new free-ranging positives — 75 of them — either were within or near the boundary of Disease Management Area 2 (DMA 2) in southcentral Pennsylvania. Three free-ranging CWD-positives were within or near DMA 3 in northwestern Pennsylvania.

Both of these DMAs have been expanded as a result of CWD-positive deer being detected near their boundaries.

And with the creation earlier this year of DMA 4, which was established after CWD was detected at a captive deer farm in Lancaster County, more than 5,895 square miles within Pennsylvania lie within DMAs, in which special rules apply to hunters and residents.

It’s unlawful to feed deer within DMAs. Hunters are prohibited from transporting high-risk parts (generally the head and backbone) from deer they harvest within a DMA to points outside a DMA. And the use or field possession of urine-based deer attractants also is prohibited within DMAs.

Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans stressed the importance of becoming familiar and complying with these rules.

“The escalating number of CWD detections and the sudden emergence of this disease in new parts of the state should put all Pennsylvanians on guard to the threat CWD poses and the disease’s potential to have damaging impacts on Pennsylvania’s deer and deer-hunting tradition,” Burhans said in a news release. “It’s important for each of us to take this threat seriously and do all we can to slow the spread of the disease where it exists.

“By discontinuing feeding of deer and curbing other behavior that induces deer to congregate, and potentially spread disease, and by responsibly disposing of high-risk deer parts and not transporting them outside DMAs, those living within DMAs can do their part in helping fight CWD,” Burhans said.

Information for this story was provided by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

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