The Pennsylvania Game Commission Thursday released a draft of its new Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan, a document that, when adopted, will guide the agency’s management of CWD, which always is fatal to the deer and elk it infects.
The plan is in draft form and available to view at www.pgc.pa.gov.
Public comments on the plan will be accepted through Feb. 29, 2020 and will be considered in the adoption of a final plan, to be implemented for the 2020-21 hunting seasons.
The draft CWD Response Plan outlines goals and objectives in managing CWD, as well as actions that could be implemented to achieve them.
Potential actions within CWD areas include expanded deer seasons, the removal of deer antler-point restrictions and increased allocations of antlerless deer permits.
In areas where a new, isolated CWD-positive deer is detected, allowing hunters to take additional antlered deer also is being considered.
If disease-management objectives are not reached through hunting, the post-season, small-scale targeted removal of deer could be conducted in parts of CWD areas where determined necessary.
The draft plan provides a solid foundation for gauging public support on future CWD management in Pennsylvania and the actions through which it could be carried out, said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans.
“Hunters are essential to CWD management,” Burhans said. “Without the effort they put in hunting and harvesting deer, and submitting samples from the deer they harvest in CWD areas, our collective fight to slow CWD’s spread and limit the disease where it exists in Pennsylvania would be all the more an uphill battle.
“The Game Commission’s draft CWD Response Plan puts hunters first in CWD management, and their support will be fundamental to the final plan’s success,” Burhans said.
“That’s why we’re seeking input on the draft plan. The fight against CWD is not a lost cause in Pennsylvania, but only by working together can the Game Commission and the public achieve goals to better protect the state’s deer and elk and ensure the future of hunting.”
CWD first was detected in Pennsylvania in 2012. Through 2018, 250 free-ranging CWD-positive deer have been detected within the state – 246 of them within Disease Management Area 2 in southcentral Pennsylvania.
At present, Pennsylvania has three active Disease Management Areas (DMAs), totaling more than 8,000 square miles. Within DMAs, specific regulations apply regarding the hunting and feeding of deer.
It’s unlawful to intentionally feed deer within a DMA. Hunters in DMAs may not use or possess urine-based deer attractants.
And deer harvested within a DMA may not be transported out of the DMA unless the carcass parts with the highest risk of transmitting the disease are removed first.
While CWD is always fatal to deer and elk, it is not known to infect people. Still, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends never consuming meat from CWD-positive animals.
The Game Commission offers free CWD testing within DMAs. Drop-off locations and other instructions, as well as much more information on CWD, can be found at www.pgc.pa.gov.
Comments on the draft CWD Response Plan can be submitted through the CWD Response Plan page at www.pgc.pa.gov or mailed to the Pennsylvania Game Commission ATTN: CWD Plan Comments, 2001 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797.
There is a comment form on the page that can be submitted electronically or printed, then mailed.