HARRISBURG, Pa. — A captive deer that has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease will require Disease Management Area 3 to expand into Pennsylvania’s elk range.
The exact adjusted boundary of DMA 3 and all other DMAs that could expand due to newly detected CWD-positive deer will be announced in coming weeks, after all samples collected from 2018 hunter-harvested deer are tested. About 3,000 of 6,309 samples from hunter-harvested deer remain to be tested.
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture last week announced a buck on a hunting preserve near Curwensville in Clearfield County tested positive for CWD.
The CWD-positive buck had been brought to the Clearfield County hunting preserve from a Fulton County captive-deer facility, where it was born and raised. The state Department of Agriculture placed the Clearfield County hunting preserve and the Fulton County captive-deer facility under quarantine and they are to remain under quarantine for five years.
While the new DMA 3 boundary will be announced after all sampling of hunter-harvested deer is final, the CWD-positive captive deer would expand DMA 3 to the northeast, where it would encompass at least some Elk Hunt Zones, said Game Commission Wildlife Management Director Matthew Schnupp.
Within DMAs, specific regulations apply to help prevent the spread of CWD. The intentional feeding of deer is prohibited within DMAs, as is the field possession by hunters of urine-based deer attractants. Hunters harvesting deer and — in the case of an expanded DMA 3 — elk within DMAs are prohibited from exporting the entire carcasses or high-risk parts from those animals outside the DMA.
High-risk parts where the CWD prion (causative agent) concentrates are: the 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; and brain-tanned hide.
Hunters within DMAs can help prevent the spread of CWD by limiting the movement of high-risk parts and properly disposing of high-risk parts in lined-landfills or in Game Commission provided dumpsters.
Currently, state Department of Agriculture coordinates a mandatory surveillance program for 874 captive cervid facilities throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Since 1998, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has tested over 39,000 captive deer, of those, 96 have tested positive. For more information on the mandatory surveillance program or CWD in captive facilities, visit https://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx.
CWD in Pennsylvania
CWD was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2012, in a captive cervid facility in Adams County. Shortly after, three wild positive deer were detected in Bedford and Blair counties. In response to these positives, DMAs 1 and 2 were established. DMA 1 was dissolved in 2017, after no CWD positives were detected for 5 consecutive years. DMA 2 has since expanded covering parts of Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Perry and Somerset counties.
DMA 3 was established in 2014, after CWD was detected in a captive cervid facility in Jefferson County. In 2017, DMA 3 expanded when three wild CWD positives were detected in Jefferson and Clearfield counties.
DMA 4 was established in 2018, after a CWD was detected in a captive cervid facility in Lancaster County. DMA 4 covers parts Berks, Lancaster and Lebanon county. To date, CWD has not been detected in the wild population in DMA 4.
CWD is a fatal disease that affects deer and elk. CWD can be transmitted directly through animal-to-animal contact or indirectly through contaminated environments. Prions or misfolded proteins can be shed onto the environment through bodily fluids and once there can remain infectious for several years. Currently, there is no vaccine or cure for CWD.
For more information on CWD, please refer to the Game Commission website at www.pgc.pa.gov.
— Pennsylvania Game Commission