Dear Secretary Greig:
The Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs (PFSC) is the oldest and largest sportsman’s group in Pennsylvania; representing over 70,000 sportsmen/women and 5 other statewide organizations. The PFSC has a long and proud history of working closely with our resource agencies and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) on a plethora of issues that are relevant to Pennsylvania’s sportsmen/women. One of those issues included the transfer of authority of regulating the Cervid Industry from the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) to the Department of Agriculture.
We, along with several other NGO’s, were a participating partner on the initial Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) task force during the preparation and writing phase of the CWD Response Plan. Communications and a working relationship between the PDA and our organization, and the organizations we represent, has always been top notch.
On October 11th, it was announced that the first case of CWD was confirmed in a farmed deer in Adams County. Reference has been made by the PDA that you are following the “Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Response Plan.” The CWD Response Plan emphasizes the importance and benefits of timely and accurate communications. However, we feel there has been a major lapse of both accurate and timely information coming from the PDA on this issue.
Since the announcement of a positive CWD farmed deer, the PFSC and the organizations we represent have been actively involved with the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), working to alert and educate hunters and the public on the potential ramifications of this to Pennsylvania’s wild cervid population.
More than 700,000 Sportsmen/women hunt deer in Pennsylvania, and collectively play an important role in Pennsylvania’s societal and economic well-being. Hunters provide a free ecological service to society by managing deer and other wildlife populations and provide more than $1.5 billion annually to Pennsylvania’s economy.
We are especially concerned because of the way/s this disease spreads and the potential devastating effects it could have on our wild herd. It is fully understood that only two (2) positive tests have thus far come from a captive deer farm and no positive test results are related to the wild herd, therefore, the PDA remains the lead regulatory authority on dealing with and responding to the issue.
The lack of timely and informative communications leads to rumors, misinformation and unanswered questions, which results in unnecessary focus needing to be expended on the issue and it allows perceptions to grow in a less than desired manner. It leads to questions of whether the agency is doing its due diligence to investigate and manage the potential risks associated with current and future cervid farming practices; as well as how it all relates to the potential risks to the wild cervid populations.
We all must continue to approach this evolving situation in an objective manner and not allow concerns to grow out of unsubstantiated incidents that are a result of a lack of detail provided by the PDA. Being transparent and forthright helps to curtail these incidents and will actually lead to hunter assistance and cooperation.
We are particularly concerned about the efforts being made in regard to the two escaped deer originating from the Rutter’s facilities; as well as any other escaped deer, downed fences, and lenient requirements with regard to fencing that allow close interaction between our wild and captive herds. We understand that the sportsmen of PA, via the PGC, will be paying for fencing at the one farm where the fencing was removed. Why is the PGC expending hunters’ dollars when this is a PDA issue? We have included a timeline that we’d like you to confirm, and a set of additional questions regarding these and other concerns related to the positive CWD deer in a farmed cervid operation. We would appreciate an expedient response.
The Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs (PFSC) respectfully requests more open and timely communications from the PDA so we may continue to present the message throughout the state in a beneficial manner in conjunction with the PDA and the PGC’s efforts. We ask that you please include us on any/all notifications/correspondence/updates that are sent to CWD Task Force members, the Office of the Governor, the General Assembly and the deer farmers.
The PFSC is willing to work with the PDA and PGC directly or indirectly to help disseminate solid and accurate information to a large number of stakeholders. This process will produce the best results, if/when driven in a pro-active manner.
Please address all correspondence to J. Gary Moore, PFSC’s Director: ( [email protected]
/ 717.232.3480 ). Gary is responsible for coordinating all CWD information/efforts for the PFSC.
Chuck Lombaerde, President
cc: Deputy Secretary Meals
Chairman Rich Alloway, Senate Game & Fish Committee
Chairman John Evans, House Game & Fish Committee
Governor Tom Corbett
PGC Executive Director Carl Roe
PENNSYLVANIA FEDERATION OF SPORTSMEN’S CLUBS (PFSC)
CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE (CWD) – TIMELINE
(NOTE: information obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA), the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) and media sources)
4 OCT Captive deer (3.5-year old doe) died, reported to PDA, tissue samples taken and sent for analysis - Rutters’ Straban Township farm, 1491 New Chester Road, New Oxford, Adams County, PA
10 OCT 1st confirmed case of CWD in Pennsylvania, 23rd state in the nation with CWD /
13th state with CWD in a captive population - Rutters’ Straban Township farm listed as “the index farm”
11 OCT PDA/PGC press conference @ Capitol Media Center
11 OCT Initial quarantined farms: (1.) 1491 New Chester Road, New Oxford - Adams County (2.) 6464 Jacks Hollow Road, Williamsport - Lycoming County (3.) 61 Pickett Road, Dover - York County
17 OCT Order issued by PGC – Executive Disease / Disease Management Area (DMA), parts of York and Adams Counties with associated regulations
17 OCT PDA/PGC informational meeting @ Bermudian Springs High School
18 OCT “Pink 23” escapes from “the index farm” during depopulation task, tissue samples taken from eight (8) other deer and sent for analysis. (Shot by a hunter 11/26/12)
20 OCT Escape / release from a Perry County deer farm. PDA and Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) investigating
2 NOV PDA/PGC informational meeting @ Farm Show Building, VIP Room
7 NOV 2nd confirmed case of CWD, 2.5-year old buck, very healthy appearance, approximately 200 pounds from “the index farm” / 7 ea. “not detected”
7 NOV PDA/PGC informational meeting @ Blue Ridge Sportsmen’s Association
8 NOV PDA/PGC informational meeting @ the York Fairgrounds – Expo Center
12 NOV PDA/PGC informational meeting @ Hampton Fire Company
12 NOV Media sources indicate a deer escaped several months ago from a farm in Alexandria, Huntingdon County. This deer (“Purple 4”) previously a member of the herd at “the index farm”
14 NOV “CWD Quarantines” designates 28 farms / “Revoked CWD Quarantines” designates three (3) farms
PENNSYLVANIA FEDERATION OF SPORTSMEN’S CLUBS (PFSC)
CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE (CWD) – LIST OF QUESTIONS
1. How much effort has been dedicated by PDA to the CWD issue? (i.e. numbers and hours of staffers-weekly basis, numbers of farms and animals involved in trace-out/trace-back process/es, incidents/amount of coordination with out-of-state agencies)
2. How many deer farms have been cleared, since 10 OCT?
3. How many farms are currently quarantined because of CWD?
4. Which counties have a CWD quarantined farm?
5. Why is the Anthony Whitetail Ranch listed as both “CWD Quarantined” and “Revoked CWD Quarantined” on the list dated, 14 NOV?
6. Is a deer that lived at “the index farm” loose in the State of Indiana?
7. Have deer from “the index farm” been sold to any other states?
8. What progress has been made with respect to finding other “escaped” farmed deer?
9. Why has the PDA not worked with the PGC to issue an executive order stating that any licensed hunter seeing a deer with colored ear tags can shoot that deer if a safe shot presents itself, and turn it into the PDA or PGC for testing? Over 700,000 deer hunters are currently in the field for deer rifle season. All have had hunter trapper education; and all they desire is the go-ahead from PDA to protect their wild herd from the potential negative effects of escaped cervids.
10. What is the status of the investigation for the incident that occurred at the Perry County deer farm on 20 OCT?
11. What efforts have been made to capture “Purple 4” in Huntingdon County? Why has no public information about this escaped deer been disseminated?
12. Has the “no license-deer escape” investigation in Huntingdon County been completed?
13. Have investigations on the “operations/facilities without the required license”, been initiated for the farms that were mentioned at the 8 Nov/York and the 12 NOV/Hampton meetings?
14. What is the criterion that permits the status to change from “CWD Quarantined” to “Revoked CWD Quarantined” on the list dated, 14 NOV?
15. Has the enclosure/fence been reconstructed at 61 Pickett Road, Dover, York County? If not, why not? And again, why should sportsmen’s dollars be spent footing this bill when the regulatory jurisdiction is under the PDA, not the PGC?
16. Has a schedule been developed to disseminate CWD information/materials in a more timely and accurate manner as this process moves forward?