Friday, January 25, 2019

Game Commission Taking Action To Reduce Chronic Wasting Disease Threat In Bedford, Blair Counties Through Targeted Deer Removals

On January 25, the Game Commission announced it would be conducting a project in Bedford and Blair counties to reduce the threat to deer and elk herds posed by chronic wasting disease by reducing the number of deer in those counties.
The targeted removal operation, being done in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services, will be based on a post-hunting season deer population survey now underway by Game Commission staff.
The survey estimate will then be compared to the target deer population objective of 2,000 to 2,500 deer.  A targeted removal operation by professionals will then be used to reduce the number of deer to this objective.
Removals will only occur on lands with landowner permission, and will be completed this winter and early spring.
In addition to conducting population surveys, Game Commission staff are capturing and marking deer as part of this project. Captured deer will be marked with ear tags and radio collars, and then released. The radio collars will provide movement and survival data.
Captured and collared deer will not be killed as part of the targeted removal.
Deer harvested through targeted removals will not go to waste. All deer will be tested for CWD and infected deer will be disposed of properly. The remaining venison from targeted removal operations will be donated to cooperating landowners and to local food banks.
The Game Commission does not take the decision to reduce deer populations lightly. Without effective action, CWD will continue to increase.
As CWD increases, deer survival declines. Eventually, deer populations and hunting opportunities decline. Based on other states experiences, reducing deer numbers is the best management option.
Without action, CWD will continue to spread in Pennsylvania and will have long-term negative impacts on deer and deer hunting.
As the state agency responsible for managing Pennsylvania’s deer and elk herd, it would be irresponsible not to take the threat of CWD seriously.
At a House hearing in March of last year, Game Commission Executive Director Brian Burhans said the spread of chronic wasting disease in deer “is an ecological disaster unfolding before our eyes” that threatens the state’s $1.6 billion industry tied to hunting and our hunting heritage.
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 misfold 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 this disease and the threat it poses to deer and elk herds, visit the Game Commission's Chronic Wasting Disease webpage.
(Map: Disease Management Areas.)

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