Hot Topics

Most Shared

Top Stories

Top Stories

text size

Game commission warns of CWD

Updated: Saturday, September 21 2013, 03:27 PM CDT
Posted by: Lauren McLane

HARRISBURG -- As hunting season creeps closer, hunters harvesting deer in areas of Pennsylvania where chronic wasting disease has been found will need to comply with special rules during the upcoming hunting seasons.

But the Pennsylvania Game Commission  has removed the requirement for the 2013-2014 seasons for successful hunters within a Disease Management Area to take their harvests to a check station where samples can be collected for disease testing.

Instead, the game commission will use other methods to determine how prevalent the disease might be in areas where it has been found.

The changes correspond with changing circumstances in Pennsylvania regarding chronic wasting disease (CWD), a disease that always is fatal to deer, elk and moose but that is not known to be transmitted to humans.

The disease was first found in captive deer in 2012, but since then, positive CWD tests have been returned from free-ranging deer.

Those hunting within either of the state's two Disease Management Areas need to know that deer carcass parts determined to have a high risk of transmitting CWD cannot be removed from the DMA.

High-risk 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.

The meat from harvested deer may be removed from the DMAs, so long as it does not contain any high-risk parts. Hunters also may remove from the DMAs any cleaned skull plates 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; capes, 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.

The use of urine-based deer attractants is prohibited within the DMAs, as is the direct or indirect feeding of wild, free-ranging deer.

Harvested deer can be taken to any cooperating processor or taxidermist associated with the DMA, and the processed meat or finished taxidermy mounts can be removed from the DMA when they are ready.

Hunters who want to process their own deer may remove the meat from the carcass and dispose of any high-risk parts at dumpsters to be set up at locations within the DMAs.Proper disposal of high-risk parts is important because CWD can be transmitted from deer to deer through both direct and indirect contact, and dumping high-risk parts in areas where free-ranging deer might be exposed to them increases the risk of spreading the disease.

The Game Commission has continued disease sampling on road-killed deer within the DMAs for the last several months, and the agency will collect some samples during the upcoming deer archery season, but the bulk of samples are likely to be collected during the regular two-week firearms season for deer, which opens Dec. 2.

The commission has set a goal of collecting 1,000 samples from each DMA. Testing those  2,000 samples will provide biologists with a solid indication of how prevalent the disease is where it is known to have existed.

The Game Commission will notify hunters of any deer that are sampled and test positive for CWD. However, hunters should understand that their deer, even when taken to a cooperating processor or taxidermist, might not be tested for the disease.

Some hunters might want to know for certain that a deer they harvest will be tested for CWD, and the only way to assure the animal will be tested is to take the harvested deer’s head to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture laboratory in Harrisburg. Transporting a deer head for disease testing is a permitted exception to the prohibition on removing high-risk parts from the DMA. Before transport, the head should be placed in a plastic garbage bag, with that bag then placed in a second plastic garbage bag.

Other high-risk parts should not be removed from a DMA and should be disposed of properly within the DMA instead.

Hunters who have their deer tested by the Department of Agriculture will need to pay a fee. Those interested in testing should call the Department of Agriculture at 717-787-8808 before making a trip there. More information about this process can be found by clicking on the CWD link of the Department of Agriculture’s website,

Chronic wasting disease is not known to be transmitted to humans; however, out of an abundance of caution, hunters are advised not to eat the meat from animals that test positive.

Hunters also are urged to never shoot deer that appear sick. Instead, deer that appear unhealthy should be reported to the nearest Game Commission regional office. Game Commission officers will investigate such reports.

For more information, click HERE.Game commission warns of CWD

Advertise with us!

Related Stories

Advertise with us!