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DCNR Shares Information about Chronic Wasting Disease with Hunters, Visitors of State Forests and Parks

November 15, 2017 03:00 PM

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All 20 of Pennsylvania’s state forests, totaling 2.2 million acres, and 97 of the 121 state parks are open to hunting during established seasons.

Deer hunting helps maintain healthy forests by managing the deer population.

Many visitors to state forests and parks in the fall are there to enjoy hunting as outdoor recreation. As manager of these public lands, DCNR is responsible for sharing information and educating visitors about safety and impacts to recreation and natural resources.

Detection of Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) affects the brain and nervous system of infected deer and elk, and is always fatal to the animal. CWD has been detected in some areas of Pennsylvania in both captive and free-ranging deer.

There is no evidence that CWD is transmissible to humans or traditional livestock.
Several state and federal agencies are collaboratively working on a response plan which details methods of prevention, surveillance, and response regarding CWD, including:

  • Pennsylvania Game Commission
  • State departments of Agriculture, Health, and Environmental Protection
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture

Activities designed to reduce the risks associated with this disease are ongoing.

Surveillance for CWD began in Pennsylvania in 1998 and informs resource managers of the prevalence and distribution of the disease.

Disease Management Areas

Following detection of CWD in captive and free-ranging deer, the Pennsylvania Game Commission established Disease Management Areas (DMAs) to reduce the risk of spreading CWD to other parts of the state.

Two DMAs currently exist in Pennsylvania.

DMA2 includes all or portions of the Michaux, Buchanan, Gallitzin, and Rothrock state forests, as well as these state parks:

  • Blue Knob
  • Buchanan’s Birthplace
  • Caledonia
  • Canoe Creek
  • Cowans Gap
  • Kings Gap
  • Mont Alto
  • Pine Grove Furnace
  • Prince Gallitzin
  • Shawnee
  • Trough Creek
  • Warriors Path

Affected counties in DMA2 are:

  • Adams
  • Bedford
  • Blair
  • Cambria
  • Cumberland
  • Franklin
  • Fulton
  • Huntingdon
  • Somerset

Hunters who harvest deer within the DMA should be aware that special rules and regulations apply, and that they can have their deer tested for CWD free of charge.

Additional information about CWD -- including impacted locations and approved processors -- is provided by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Deer harvested from outside of a DMA can be submitted for testing through the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. There is a fee involved.

DCNR Management Practices Related to CWD

buck at elk state forest feateure.jpg
DCNR encourages deer hunting on state forest and park lands as a management practice.

To increase hunter access, additional roads have been opened in both Michaux and Buchanan state forests. Signage advising of active CWD management also has been posted in these state forests. Additional advisories have been submitted by letter to camp lessees within these areas.

The DCNR website provides CWD information to inform visitors online. Resources include:

“Hunting is an important component of keeping forests healthy for all Pennsylvanians, and an outdoor recreation woven into the history and culture of the commonwealth,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “We encourage hunters on the impacted areas of DCNR lands to stay informed and follow the guidance as they enjoy their time afield.”

Precautions to Prevent Exposure to -- and Spread of -- CWD

Here are some tips to consider to limit the impacts and spread of CWD:

  • Don’t feed deer
  • Avoid using urine lures
  • Report sick deer to the nearest Pennsylvania Game Commission regional office
  • Follow the rules established for DMA areas
  • Use the drop boxes in DMA areas
  • Don’t eat meat from a deer that has tested positive or appears sick
  • Wear gloves when handling a harvested deer and thoroughly clean your hands after processing

For complete information on CWD and hunting, visit the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

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