2013-03-07 / Front Page

Public Meeting To Be Held On CWD

Harvest locations of infected deer released
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

NEWS EDITOR

The Pennsylvania Game Commission will host a public meeting later this month in the southcentral region as part of its plan to disseminate information on the confirmed presence of chronic wasting disease in free-range white-tailed deer.

As part of a news conference held Monday afternoon, Cal Dubrock, PGC’s Bureau of Wildlife Management director, announced a meeting has tentatively been set for Wednesday, March 20. The location will be either Blair or Bedford County, where positive confirmation of the disease was made. More specific details should be released within the next week.

Dubrock said there are two “obvious” possibilities of how chronic wasting disease (CWD) came to be in Pennsylvania. The most likely out of those two possibilities would be the dispersal or continued spread of infected deer into the commonwealth from the southern states of West Virginia and Maryland.

“As in terms of the source we have a lot of questions and there is a lot of speculation,” said Dubrock. “What we don’t have is a lot of answers.”

According to Dubrock, the Game Commission’s focus here on out remains on increasing the knowledge in the prevalence and distribution of CWD while managing the spread of the disease.

Therefore, officials are now set to complete the testing of remaining CWD samples from the 2012 general firearms season; update CWD info on its Web site; map out a prospective diseased management area; review and update the Executive Order; and increase testing of crop kills, roadkills and sick or unhealthy deer.

How the Game Commission proceeds with regulations as it pertains to moving and transporting harvested deer and hunting will hinge upon the outcome of sampling, Dubrock said.

Dubrock pointed out that over the years of sampling and testing more than 43,000 white-tailed deer, only these three deer have come back with positive results for CWD. “I wouldn’t over-react at this point in time,” he said. “I will be surprised if we find anymore.”

Southcentral Region Director Brad Myers said the three deer in question included an adult buck from Frankstown Township, an adult doe in Freedom Township, both of Blair County, as well as an adult buck from South Woodbury Township, Bedford County.

Game Commission officers attempted to contact the affected hunters to ascertain the exact location of the harvest sites, according to Region Director Myers. As there are no painted boundaries outlining townships, Myers said there were some slight discrepancies when comparing the sites to the information recorded on the harvest tags. He added the locations were close to township lines.

Furthermore, in speaking in detail with those hunters, officers were also able to ascertain the deer appeared to be healthy and did not exhibit any signs of being sick.

Myers concluded samples were obtained from all of the deer, and the hope is to have them genetically tested. The deer processors used in the three cases were also contacted. As result, the Game Commission was assured two of the three processors keep their deer separate or isolated throughout the entire butchering process so as to avoid possible cross contamination.

Dubrock informed those on hand that the agency has said for years that it was not a matter of if CWD was confirmed here, but when.

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