2019-03-09 / Front Page

Deadly disease: CWD spreads to elk range

Last week’s announcement of a CWD-infested deer being found in raises the possibility of a nightmare scenario that has haunted managers of Pennsylvania’s elk herd for the better part of a decade.

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal disorder that has the potential to decimate both deer and elk populations.

The Game Commission reported that a captive buck that had been brought to a deer farm near Curwensville from Fulton County tested positive for CWD. The agency immediately announced that it will be expanding its “disease management area” to the northeast, into an area that is part of the range for the state’s elk herd. Details will be announced in the coming weeks.

Those management areas are governed by regulations to help prevent the spread of CWD. The intentional feeding of deer is prohibited, - session by hunters of urine-based deer attractants.

deer or elk within disease management areas are prohibited from exporting the entire carcasses or high-risk parts from those animals outside of the zone.

detected in Pennsylvania in 2012, in a captive deer and elk facility in Adams County. Shortly thereafter, three wild positive deer were detected in Bedford and Blair counties. A disease management area was established covering parts of 11 downstate counties.

Then, in 2014, discovery of CWD deer farm and the subsequent detection of the disease in three wild deer - ties resulted in the creation of another disease management area.

CWD can be transmitted directly through animal-to-animal contact, or indirectly through contaminated environments. It can be shed onto the environment and once there can remain infectious for several years. There is no vaccine or cure for CWD.

More information is available on the Game Commission website, pgc.pa.gov.

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