Third CWD Management Area Established After Disease Found

Yet another management area, this one of about 350 square miles, has been established in an effort to study whether chronic wasting disease discovered at a fenced facility may be in the wild population near it.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has established a third Disease Management Area in response to chronic wasting disease being detected recently in Jefferson County. Disease Management Area 3 (DMA 3) encompasses about 350 square miles in Jefferson and Clearfield counties, and also includes a sliver of Indiana County.

Chronic Wasting Disease is fatal to deer and now is in more than two dozen states and Canadian provinces.

Chronic Wasting Disease is fatal to deer and now is in more than two dozen states and Canadian provinces.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced early in April that chronic wasting disease (CWD) was detected at a domestic deer facility in Jefferson County, and both that facility and another associated with the same CWD-positive deer were placed under quarantine.

The state Department of Agriculture oversees all domestic deer operations in Pennsylvania, while the Game Commission is responsible for managing and protecting free-ranging wildlife and their habitats.

Pennsylvania’s CWD response plan calls for the Game Commission to monitor the prevalence of CWD where it has been detected, and slow the spread of the disease where it exists in the wild. At this time, CWD has not been detected in any free-ranging deer within or near DMA 3.

DMA 3 forms its northern border along Interstate 80. The western and southern boundaries follow state Route 36. And U.S. Routes 219 and 322 form the eastern border. A map depicting DMA 3 is available on the CWD page of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.state.pa.us

Special rules regarding the hunting and feeding of deer and other cervids, as well as the possession, transport and importation of cervid parts apply within all DMAs.

Hunters within the DMA cannot remove from the DMA any cervid parts with a high risk of transmitting CWD. The head (including the brain, tonsils, eyes and lymph nodes) and the spinal cord/backbone are among the list of high-risk parts that cannot be removed from the DMA.

The possession and removal of vehicular-killed cervids, or parts there from, is prohibited from areas within the DMA to locations outside the DMA.

The Game Commission may designate approved locations outside DMAs for the receipt of high-risk parts. Processed meat can be removed from the DMA, as long as the backbone is not present. Finished taxidermy mounts also can be removed from the DMA, as can antlers attached to a skull plate, as long as no visible brain matter or spinal cord material is present.

Hunters also should know that the use or field possession of any urine-based cervid attractant is prohibited within any DMA.

The direct or indirect feeding of any free-ranging wild cervids also is prohibited within the DMA, as is the rehabilitation and movement of live cervids.

Pennsylvania’s Disease Management Areas

DMA 1 encompasses about 600 square miles in York and Adams counties. It was established in 2012 after CWD was detected at a domestic deer facility, and in two years of testing, no positive CWD cases have been confirmed among free-ranging deer within DMA 1.

DMA 2 was expanded in recent weeks following the detection of CWD in two additional free-ranging deer killed in Bedford County in late 2013. A CWD-positive deer killed in Maryland, just south of this DMA, also influenced the expansion of DMA 2.

The expansion of DMA 2 also follows procedures set forth in Pennsylvania’s CWD response plan. DMA 2 now includes parts of Bedford, Blair, Huntingdon, Cambria and Fulton counties. It encompasses more than 1,600 square miles and stretches south to the Maryland line. The new DMA 2 boundary extends east to state routes 829 and 915, and Interstate 70.

The boundaries north of the Pennsylvania Turnpike haven’t changed. South of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the western boundary of DMA 2 is state Route 96.

A map of the expanded DMA 2 is available on the CWD page of the Game Commission’s website. A map of the expanded DMA 2 also will be included in the 2014-15 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest issued to hunters at the time they buy their licenses. The digest, however, will not include a DMA 3 map because the DMA was established after the print deadline for the digest.

Hunters and Pennsylvania residents who want to make sure they’re getting the most up-to-date information about CWD in Pennsylvania, existing DMAs and other rules can check the CWD page at the Game Commission’s website.

CWD Information

While chronic wasting disease is relatively new to Pennsylvania, it is not a new disease. CWD was discovered in 1967, and it has spread to 22 states and two Canadian provinces. Scientists believe CWD is caused by an agent capable of transforming normal brain proteins into an abnormal form.

CWD affects members of the cervid, or deer family. It is spread from animal to animal by direct and indirect contact.

There currently is no practical way to test live animals for CWD, nor is there an approved vaccine to prevent infection. CWD is a slow-progressing disease and clinical signs do not develop until later stages of disease, often two years or more after infection. Clinical signs include poor posture, lowered head and ears, uncoordinated movement, rough-hair coat, weight loss, increased thirst, excessive drooling, and, ultimately death. Any animals suspected of having CWD should be reported to the Game Commission.

There currently is no scientific evidence that CWD has or can spread to humans, either through contact with infected animals or by eating the meat of infected animals. As a precaution, however, people are advised not to consume meat from animals that test positive for CWD.

During 2013, the Game Commission collected and tested samples from 5,120 deer statewide. Only the two from Bedford County tested positive for CWD. Since 1998, the Game Commission has gathered and submitted more than 48,000 samples from wild deer and elk for CWD testing. A total of five free-ranging deer have tested positive – all of them within DMA 2.

High-risk parts

Cervid parts with a high risk of transmitting chronic wasting disease cannot be removed from any disease management area.
Those parts include:

  • Head (including brain, tonsils, eyes and lymph nodes)
  • Spinal Cord/Backbone (vertebra)
  • Spleen
  • Skull plate with attached antlers, if visible brain or spinal cord material is present
  • Cape, if visible brain or spinal cord material is present
  • Upper canine teeth, if root structure or other soft material is present
  • Any object or article containing visible brain or spinal cord material
  • Brain-tanned hide

Non-high-risk parts
The following parts are not considered to have a high risk of transmitting CWD, and can be removed from a DMA:

    • Meat, without the backbone
    • Skull plate with attached antlers, if no visible brain or spinal cord material is present
    • Tanned hide or rawhide with no visible brain or spinal cord material present
    • Cape, if no visible brain or spinal cord material is present
    • Upper canine teeth, if no root structure or other soft material is present; and
  • Taxidermy mounts, if no visible brain or spinal cord material is present.

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