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Release 32-18

GAME COMMISSION EXPANDS CWD RULES

Whole deer may not be brought into Pennsylvania from any state with CWD.

Pennsylvanians who harvest deer anywhere in New York, Ohio, Maryland or West Virginia no longer may bring them home without first removing the carcass parts with the highest risk of transmitting chronic wasting disease (CWD).

As part of the fight to slow the spread of CWD in the Commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has updated its executive order prohibiting the importation of high-risk deer parts into Pennsylvania.

While the order has always prohibited whole deer from being brought into Pennsylvania from most U.S. states and Canadian provinces where CWD exists, it previously permitted deer harvested in New York, Ohio, Maryland or West Virginia to be brought in, so long as the deer weren?t reported to have been harvested in any county where CWD has been detected.

The updated order gives Pennsylvania?s free-ranging deer better protection, said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans.

?The previous rules didn?t provide assurance that deer harvested in CWD-positive counties within New York, Ohio, Maryland or West Virginia weren?t making their way into the Commonwealth,? Burhans said. ?While the order prohibited the high-risk parts of those deer from being imported into Pennsylvania, enforcement of the order relied on out-of-state hunters being knowledgeable and honest about harvest sites.

?As we?ve seen in Pennsylvania, just because CWD appears confined to a specific area, doesn?t mean it won?t turn up somewhere completely new, miles away,? Burhans said. ?Tightening up this order puts teeth in the Game Commission?s ability to enforce it, allowing us to better protect our deer and elk from CWD.?

Now that the updated order has taken effect, there are a total of 24 states and two Canadian provinces from which high-risk cervid parts cannot be imported into Pennsylvania.

The parts ban affects hunters who harvest deer, elk, moose, mule deer and other cervids in: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming; as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Those harvesting cervids in the identified states and provinces must leave behind the carcass parts that have the highest risk for transmitting CWD. Those parts are: the head (including brain, tonsils, eyes and any lymph nodes); spinal cord/backbone; spleen; skull plate with attached antlers, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; cape, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if root structure or other soft tissue is present; any object or article containing visible brain or spinal cord tissue; unfinished taxidermy mounts; and brain-tanned hides.

Hunters who are successful in those states and provinces from which the importation of high-risk parts into Pennsylvania is banned are allowed to import meat from any deer, elk, moose, mule deer or caribou, so long as the backbone is not present.
Successful hunters also are allowed to bring back cleaned skull plates with attached antlers, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; tanned hide or raw hide with no visible brain or spinal cord tissue present; capes, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if no root structure or other soft tissue is present; and finished taxidermy mounts.

Pennsylvania first detected chronic wasting disease in 2012 at a captive deer facility in Adams County. The disease has since been detected in free-ranging and captive deer in parts of southcentral and northcentral Pennsylvania. To date, 104 free-ranging CWD-positive deer have been detected in Pennsylvania.

The Game Commission in late February also established its fourth Disease Management Area, DMA 4, in Lancaster, Lebanon and Berks counties in response to CWD turning up at a captive deer facility in Lancaster County.

Burhans said hunters who harvest deer, elk or moose in a state or province where CWD is known to exist should follow instructions from that state?s wildlife agency on how and where to submit the appropriate samples to have their animal tested. If, after returning to Pennsylvania, a hunter is notified that his or her harvest tested positive for CWD, the hunter is encouraged to immediately contact the Game Commission region office that serves the county in which they reside for disposal recommendations and assistance.

A list of region offices and contact information can be found at Game Commission by scrolling to the bottom of any page to select the ?Connect with Us? tab.

First identified in 1967, CWD affects members of the cervid family, including all species of deer, elk and moose. To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But the disease is always fatal to the cervids it infects.

As a precaution, CDC recommends people avoid eating meat from deer and elk that look sick or that test positive for CWD.
More information on CWD can be found at CDC?s website, www.cdc.gov.

There currently is no practical way to test live animals for CWD, nor is there a vaccine. Clinical signs of CWD include poor posture, lowered head and ears, uncoordinated movement, rough-hair coat, weight loss, increased thirst, excessive drooling, and, ultimately, death.

Much more information on CWD, as well as a video showing hunters how they can process venison for transport and consumption, is available at the Game Commission?s website.
 

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Thank goodness the dept of ag can't stop that, they are doing everything possible to allow the spread of the disease. Good for the PGC.
 

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"Successful hunters also are allowed to bring back cleaned skull plates with attached antlers, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present"


Would the "typical" skull plate and attached antlers from a meat processor qualify? They aren't truly "clean" but I don't believe they contain any brain matter. Or are they looking for something cleaner?
 

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They don't have to be bleached white but they can't have any brain matter or material inside the skill plate. Just examine it when you pick it up and if it has material inside clean it out. However, unless you are in a butcher shop inside the CWD area, you have to do that yourself before you leave the CWD area.

What are high-risk carcass parts?

High-risk carcass parts, where the CWD prion (causative agent) concentrates are: 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.

Why are there restrictions on the movement of high-risk parts?
Regulations prohibit the removal or export from any Disease Management Area (DMA) established within the Commonwealth any high-risk parts or materials resulting from cervids harvested, taken, or killed, including by vehicular accident, within any Disease Management Area. Regulations also prohibit the importation of any high-risk parts or materials from cervids harvested, taken, or killed in other areas where CWD has been detected. Although CWD has been detected in both captive and free ranging deer, the Game Commission's goal continues to be to prevent further introductions of CWD into our state and to prevent spread within the state. The movement of high-risk carcass parts is a potential avenue through which CWD could be spread. Many states, including Pennsylvania, have developed regulations to prohibit the importation of high-risk carcass parts from states and provinces with CWD infected deer.

What carcass parts are safe to move?

The following cervid parts may be safely transported into and within Pennsylvania: meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached; cleaned hides without the head; skull plates and/or antlers cleaned of all brain tissue; upper canine teeth without soft tissue; or finished taxidermy mounts. These parts may be moved out of Pennsylvania's Disease Management Areas.
 

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So let's just say someone is bringing home an elk skull from CO. Stopping at a car wash and power washing brains out work?
 

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You have to be joking or trolling right? Do you really believe deer farmer propoganda? Has our society lost every last modicum of common sense?
Not joking. As you may know there are many scientists on both sides of the issue. Some feel that CWD exists in all herds and nothing can be done about it. Others feel that attempts should be made to control it. Wiping out whole herds with sharp shooters is a tactic that is quite controversial. I hope they figure it out.
 

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Has our society lost every last modicum of common sense?
So, does common sense dictate? Having sharp shooters kill hundreds of deer and then finding no deer with CWD? Or making you power wash your deer skull from out of state, so you can bring it home? lol.
 

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Whelen, not all deer herds have CWD. There was no CWD east of the Mississippi until it was brought here by deer farmers. Usually your post make sense, this one is off in left field.
 
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Whelen, not all deer herds have CWD. There was no CWD east of the Mississippi until it was brought here by deer farmers. Usually your post make sense, this one is off in left field.
You could be right. I have been eating venison for 40 years, maybe I have it. lol I don't think the science is clear on it yet, and I don't fully support some of the measures implemented, I'll leave it at that.
 

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Here is some history Whelen. Many folks believe animals escaped from a herd of captptive Mule deer that was being experimented on at Colorado State University.


This much we do know: The disease was first discovered and documented by researchers from Colorado State University and Colorado’s Division of Wildlife at a captive cervid research facility near Fort Collins, where studies were done on deer as well as sheep. A neurological disease, CWD is in the same family as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (which affects humans) and scrapie (which affects sheep).

The fact that deer and sheep were both present and experimented upon in the Colorado facility and that CWD is a transmissible prion disease sharing somewhat similar characteristics to scrapie has led to obvious questions: Was CWD somehow “created” by researchers in that Colorado lab? Or is CWD the result of a mutated version of scrapie that passed between deer and sheep in the facility?

Where it truly originated, to be frank, is likely irrelevant because CWD is an acronym that’s now very much a part of the deer hunter’s vocabulary. It was the Wisconsin discovery in 2002 that put it there. Wisconsin’s response was as swift as it was unsettling. The state created an eradication zone of roughly 287 square miles with a simple, single goal: Kill every deer within the zone in an effort to contain the disease. And it was, by all accounts, a spectacular failure.

“That was the first of many knee-jerk reactions that wasn’t based in science, that wasn’t really approached in a manner that made sound management sense,” says Kroll. “The impact it had on Wisconsin’s deer and its deer hunters was enormous. And it didn’t have to happen.”



Following the discovery of CWD in Wisconsin, it was feared that the disease would lead to a decline in deer numbers and a drop in the number of deer hunters chasing whitetails in Wisconsin. Both proved to be true. By 2009, the number of gun hunters had dipped to just under 623,000, compared to nearly 645,000 in 2005. By 2009, 39 deer were killed per 100 licensed hunters, compared to 56 deer per 100 hunters in 2005.

But, according to Kroll, it wasn’t CWD that caused the declines. Rather, they were the result of an unnecessarily aggressive response to CWD.

Currently, Wisconsin has the nation’s highest number of confirmed CWD cases in wild deer (more than 3,000 since 2002). Following Kroll’s work there, the state seems to have all but abandoned its aggressive efforts to eliminate the disease and, according to data from the Wisconsin DNR, CWD infection rates are climbing. Or are they?

In the spring of 2016, the Wisconsin DNR released data showing that the overall infection rate of CWD had climbed to 9.4 percent, the highest since monitoring began. It’s a figure that Kroll believes to be incorrect.

“I’ve looked at that data and it does not show a statewide prevalence rate of 9 percent. It does show how misguided people are with their facts about CWD,” he says.

Kroll released a report outlining how the 9.4 percent prevalence rate being cited is both misleading and wrong, explaining it is the result of dividing the number of positive results by the number of deer tested. The bulk of the deer tested were from the CWD zone, thus skewing the data and generating a statewide prevalence rate much higher than is likely real.

“Does anyone really think if we tested 100 deer across the state, we’d find 9 to have CWD? That’s just not the case, yet that’s what’s being reported and it’s simply not correct,” he says.



CWD in deer
The theories behind the origins of CWD are varied and controversial.

Stuart Fisher

THE THREAT IS REAL
While some researchers, like Kroll, believe CWD is not the catastrophe it’s been portrayed as being, others think it truly does have the potential to greatly impact the future of deer and deer hunting, and they have urged for stronger regulations against the relocation of cervids as well as tighter regulation of game farms.

“All you have to do is look at the history. Look at the path the disease has taken and it seems pretty clear that captive cervids have likely played a big role in the spread of this disease,” says Russ Mason, wildlife division chief for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “We don’t know exactly where it came from, aside from the fact that it was first documented in a captive facility. And we know that when you have deer and elk being moved across state lines, you’re asking for trouble. Once it’s found in captive deer, it seems to show up soon after in wild populations.”

Mason made that statement in an interview in 2014—before Michigan had any confirmed cases of CWD in wild whitetails. Up until that time, the state’s only CWD-positive deer dated from 2008, from a captive facility in Kent County. In 2015, a wild deer tested positive for CWD.

Kroll disagrees with Mason’s statement.

“There is so much misinformation regarding CWD that it’s disturbing. Dangerous. CWD did not come from a game farm. It came out of a research facility run by a state game agency. That distinction needs to be made and it never is,” says Kroll. “The does that produced the fawns used in the facility were returned to the wild. Is that where the disease started? That wasn’t a deer breeder. It was a state research facility. Yet the blame always falls on the privately owned breeding facilities. That doesn’t make any sense to me,” says Kroll, who, it should be noted, has worked for game breeders in the past. “We have CWD in West Texas. There’s not a breeding facility in that part of the state. So where did it come from?”

Mason, however, isn’t buying it.

“Look at a map. You’ll see a pretty interesting pattern that shows areas with outbreaks of CWD in the wild and outbreaks in captive facilities,” he says. “If we want to stop the spread of CWD, then we need to think about how we move deer and elk like cattle.” That’s a position shared by Dr. Grant Woods, a respected biologist based in Missouri.

“According to disease scientists, the best method to limit CWD’s spread is to stop transporting the causative agents,” he says. “This means we hunters need to debone meat from deer and elk harvested in areas where CWD has been found, and only transport the meat, pelt, and antlers. Do not transport the brain and major parts of the nervous system, which is where most prions occur.”

“We also need to stop transporting live deer and elk because there is no practical test that can accurately confirm if they have CWD. Deer or elk with CWD shed the causative agent in their saliva, feces, urine, etc., and transporting them could spread CWD to areas with herds that are currently CWD-free.”

When CWD reached high-density deer states like Illinois and Michigan, it was feared the disease would spread more quickly there than in low-density areas. So far, it hasn’t.

Through June 2016, Illinois has tested nearly 100,000 whitetails for CWD, with 670 testing positive. The disease had been confirmed in 16 of 102 counties. Overall, the prevalence rate in all confirmed areas has remained stable or increased slightly at just more than one percent over seven years.

To date, Michigan has tested more than 7,300 deer and confirmed eight CWD-positive results. Of those, three came from the immediate area in which the disease was first discovered in the state and involved whitetails that were related.

SOBERING DATA
What will the long-term impacts of CWD be? In September 2016, the scientific journal PLOS ONE published research from a study led by recent University of Wyoming Ph.D. graduate David Edmunds and under the direction of associate professor Todd Cornish. They found that during the study period (2003–2010), whitetail populations in areas of Wyoming (where the disease has been present for decades) with high prevalence rates of CWD declined annually by 10 percent. If such declines continue, localized extinction will occur in less than 50 years.

“The decline was caused directly by CWD lowering annual survival of female deer, which have the biggest impact on population growth rates,” Edmunds said in a release from the university. “This was because CWD-positive deer died both directly from the disease and were more likely to be killed by hunters than CWD-negative deer.”

Prevalence rates in the Wyoming study area were as high as 30 to 50 percent. Midwest hunters should take note. In Wisconsin, some townships have reported prevalence rates higher than 20 percent. If the Wyoming research is any indication, those regions could see localized extinction of whitetail populations in areas of the greatest prevalence.

There is some glimmer of positive news, however: In 2015, a team of researchers at New York University had a measure of success with a vaccine to prevent CWD in deer and elk, according to a paper published in the medical journal Vaccine.

So where does that leave us? Right back where we started some 50 years ago. Chronic wasting disease is here. We don’t know where it came from. We don’t know how to eliminate it. And we don’t really know what the long-term impact will be.

“CWD is a very deceptive disease. Most deer hunters have witnessed an outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), which often results in a rapid and obvious die-off. However, many deer that have been infected with EHD don’t die, and populations are known to rebound rapidly after an outbreak,” Woods says. “CWD is much different. It’s 100 percent fatal. Even worse, once the causative agent is in the soil, there’s currently no way to remove it. Unless something changes, CWD will likely be a major factor—if not the major factor—in deer populations and deer herd management for decades to come.”

Tags: deer hunting deer wildlife disease whitetail management Whitetail Deer Hunting Hunting Tony Hansen chronic wasting disease
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Very informative, thanks for passing that along WW. It is encouraging to see the researchers at NYU are having some success with developing a vaccine. Hopefully one can be developed, as this would be our best chance to beat this scourge.
 
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