Game Commission: deadly deer disease cases on the rise
The number of chronic wasting disease cases among Pennsylvania deer has tripled over last year, according to the state game commission.
In 2016, the game commission documented the disease in 25 individual, free-ranging animals. In 2017, that number jumped to 78, according to officials.
Most of the infected deer, 75 out of the 78 infected, were found within the state’s south-central Disease Management Area, or DMA. Three of the infected were found near another DMA in north western Pennsylvania.
As a result, both DMAs have been expanded. According to the game commission, about 5,900 square miles in the state are now disease management areas.
Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, afflicts members of the deer family, including whitetail, mule deer and moose. The disease, which is progressive and always fatal, causes weight loss and behavioral changes in animals before ultimately leading to their death.
“The escalating number of CWD detections and the sudden emergence of this disease in new parts of the state should put all Pennsylvanians on guard to the threat CWD poses and the disease’s potential to have damaging impacts on Pennsylvania’s deer and deer-hunting tradition,” the game commission’s executive director, Bryan Burhans, said in a release.
“It’s important for each of us to take this threat seriously and do all we can to slow the spread of the disease where it exists.”
As a result of the disease’s spread, the game commission has established rules for hunting within the DMAs. Deer in a DMA are not to be fed, according to the Game Commission, and urine based attractants are prohibited. These rules, according to the commission, prevent deer from congregating and spreading the disease.
“By discontinuing feeding of deer and curbing other behavior that induces deer to congregate, and potentially spread disease, and by responsibly disposing of high-risk deer parts and not transporting them outside DMAs, those living within DMAs can do their part in helping fight CWD,” Burhans said.