HARRISBURG, Pa.—In a continuing response to the recent confirmation of Pennsylvania’s first case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a captive-born and raised deer on a farm in Adams County, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe issued an Executive Order on Wednesday outlining a disease management area (DMA), which carries special restrictions in relation to deer within the DMA. While a map has been posted on the Game Commission’s website, the boundaries of the DMA are described below, and encompass a nearly 600-square-mile area of Adams and York counties.
As soon as the CWD-infected captive deer was found, the commonwealth’s CWD Interagency Task Force was initiated to address the threat of the disease to captive and wild deer and elk populations in the state. Task force members include representatives from the departments of Agriculture, Environmental Protection and Health, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Geological Survey/Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and Penn State University/Cooperative Extension Offices.
The task force will carry out the response plan, which includes education and outreach with public meetings and minimizing risk factors through continued surveillance, testing and management.
“This Executive Order will enable the Game Commission and Task Force members to monitor the state’s wild deer population in the area surrounding where the CWD-infected farmed deer was found,” Roe said. “We are relying on hunters and others concerned about wildlife to work with us as we strive to manage this disease.”
As part of the Game Commission’s order, which is part of the response plan, Roe used emergency regulatory authority to set in place a variety of actions that will impact hunters. Namely:
1. Hunters within the DMA are prohibited from moving high-risk parts outside of the DMA. High-risk cervid parts include: the head (including brain, tonsils, eyes and any lymph nodes); spinal cord/backbone; spleen; skull plate with attached antlers, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; cape, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if root structure or other soft tissue is present; any object or article containing visible brain or spinal cord tissue; unfinished taxidermy mounts; and brain-tanned hides. Parts not considered high-risk include: meat, without the backbone; cleaned skull plate with attached antlers, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; tanned hide or raw hide with no visible brain or spinal cord tissue present; cape, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if no root structure or other soft tissue is present; and finished taxidermy mounts. To accomplish this, the agency will contract with processors to be available at the check station to serve those hunters who plan to move their harvest outside of the DMA without taking high-risk parts with them.
2. Hunters who harvest a deer within the DMA during the two-week firearms deer season (Nov. 26-Dec. 8) are required to bring their deer to a mandatory check station so that samples can be collected for CWD testing. For those participating in any other deer season prior to or after the two-week firearms deer season within the DMA, bringing harvested deer to the check station is voluntary, but encouraged. Deer harvested outside of the DMA will not be eligible for testing at the check station; however, hunters may get their deer checked by the Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Laboratory, for a fee, by calling 717-787-8808. The check station is the Game Commission maintenance building on State Game Land 249, 1070 Lake Meade Road, East Berlin, Adams County. GPS coordinates for the building are -77.07280 and 39.97018. The check station will begin operation from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18, through Tuesday, Oct. 23, except for Sunday, when the check station will be closed. Details about check station hours for the remainder of the early archery and the regular firearms deer season, as well as the late archery and flintlock seasons, will be announced at a later date. The benefit to the hunter is two-fold: the Game Commission will cover the cost of having the animal tested, and the hunter will be notified if the harvested deer is found to be infected with CWD. The benefit to the agency is that it will be able to test a sufficient number of deer within the DMA without having to resort to culling deer simply for testing.
3. Hunters within the DMA are prohibited from using or possessing any cervid urine-based attractants. Such attractants cause deer to congregate in certain areas and increases the likelihood that CWD could spread if it is found in the wild.
Additionally, Roe noted that the order prohibits the rehabilitation of deer within the DMA, as those deer will be euthanized and tested for CWD.
The order also prohibits the feeding of cervids, which causes deer to congregate in certain areas and increases the likelihood that CWD could spread if it is found in the wild.
Finally, those individuals with a menagerie permit from the Game Commission will be prohibited from transporting live deer into or out of the DMA, and no new menagerie permits will be issued for locations within the DMA.
The order does not impact cervid livestock operations, which are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture.
Roe reiterated that officials from the CWD Task Force, including the Game Commission and Department of Agriculture, will hold a public meeting at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 17, in the Bermudian Springs High School auditorium, 7335 Carlisle Pike, York Springs, Adams County. Staff from the two agencies will provide background information on CWD, offer an update about deer farming operations and discuss the potential management challenges should CWD be found in wild deer populations.
As noted previously, the physical boundaries of the DMA are: Starting at the intersection of Interstate-76 and the west bank of the Susquehanna River heading south along the River (21.8 miles) to US Highway 30. Westbound on US Highway 30 (18.3 miles) to Highway 116. Highway 116 towards Hanover (13.7 miles). In Hanover, southwest on State Highway 194 (7 miles) to Littlestown, then northwest on State Highway 97 (9.7 miles) to Gettysburg. In Gettysburg, north on State Highway 34 (14.3 miles) to the Idaville Road. East on Idaville Road (4.8 miles) to the intersection of State Highway 94. North State Highway 94 (2 miles) to Latimore Road. East on Latimore Road (1.6 miles) to Mountain Road. North on Mountain Road (6.9 miles) to Dillsburg and the intersection of US Highway 15. North on US Highway 15 (3.2 miles) to the Yellow Breeches Creek (County Line). Northeast along the banks of the Yellow Breeches Creek (12.1 miles) to the intersection of I-76. East along I-76 (6.4 miles) to the intersection of the west bank of Susquehanna River and the starting point.
On Oct. 11, the Department of Agriculture announced that the positive sample was taken from a captive-born and raised white-tailed deer at 1491 New Chester Rd., New Oxford, and tested as part of Pennsylvania’s intensive CWD monitoring efforts. The sample tissue was tested at the Pennsylvania Veterinary Laboratory in Harrisburg and verified at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.
In addition to the Adams County location, the Department of Agriculture has quarantined three other farms directly associated with the positive deer at 6464 Jacks Hollow Rd., Williamsport, Lycoming County; 61 Pickett Rd., Dover, York County; and 295 Bremer Rd., Dover, York County. The quarantine prevents movement of any CWD susceptible animals on and off the premises.
CWD attacks the brains of infected deer, elk and moose, producing small lesions that eventually result in death. It is transmitted by direct animal-to-animal contact through saliva, feces and urine.
Signs of the disease include weight loss, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination, and abnormal behavior such as stumbling, trembling and depression. Infected deer and elk may also allow unusually close approach by humans or natural predators. The disease is fatal and there is no known treatment or vaccine.
CWD was first discovered in Colorado captive mule deer in 1967, and has since been detected in 21 other states and two Canadian provinces, including Pennsylvania’s neighboring states of New York, West Virginia and Maryland. Pennsylvania is the 22nd state to find CWD in a captive or wild deer population and the 13th state to have it only in a captive deer herd.
Surveillance for CWD has been ongoing in Pennsylvania since 1998. The Agriculture Department coordinates a mandatory CWD monitoring program for more than 23,000 captive deer on 1,100 breeding farms, hobby farms and shooting preserves.
In addition, the Game Commission collects samples from hunter-harvested deer and elk and those that appear sick or behave abnormally. Since 1998, the Game Commission has submitted for testing more than 38,000 free-ranging deer and elk for CWD, and all have tested negative.
For more information from the departments of Agriculture and Health and the Pennsylvania Game Commission, visit:
www.agriculture.state.pa.us (click on the “Chronic Wasting Disease Information” button on the homepage),
www.pgc.state.pa.us (click on “CWD Info”), and
www.health.state.pa.us (click on “Diseases and Conditions”).