Wildlife officials hold public meeting on fatal deer disease

Deer farmers, hunters and concerned residents showed up for a public meeting hosted by state wildlife officials Thursday night at the York Fairgrounds, armed with questions about chronic wasting disease.

Representatives from the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Department of Agriculture were on hand to give a presentation and answer any questions.

The crowd had plenty of concerns. One man asked about the deer that escaped the quarantined New Oxford farm, the same place where two cases of chronic wasting disease have been found.

Officials said they are searching high and low, day and night for a doe that got away. They did not know whether the animal had the disease. However, one official pointed out that 10 deer were at the farm and only two had chronic wasting disease.

“They said that deer is out there and it's running around. It's possibly in my woods behind my home and I want to know what's being done about that,” one man said.

Chronic wasting disease is fatal in deer, elk and moose, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said there is no evidence the illness can be transmitted to humans or livestock.

The Agriculture Department has quarantined the farm and 27 others in 16 counties that are associated with the positive samples. Deer cannot be moved on or off quarantined properties.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has established a disease management area surrounding the farm where the deer tested positive. As part of that plan, hunters may not move high-risk deer parts out of the area, including parts of the head and spinal column.

Hunters who harvest a deer within the disease management area during the two-week firearms deer season from November 26 to December 8 are required to bring their deer to a mandatory check station so samples can be collected for testing.

For the convenience of hunters, all cooperating deer processors within the disease management area will be considered check stations. The Game Commission will be gathering samples from hunter-killed deer at those processors.

A list of cooperating deer processors and taxidermists will be announced and posted on the commission's website.

Hunters who harvest a deer within the management area and who process their own deer, or who would like to take their deer to a processor or taxidermist outside of the management area, can visit the Game Commission operated check station at the agency's maintenance building on State Game Land 249, at 1070 Lake Meade Road in East Berlin.

Game Commission check station hours during the two-week rifle deer season are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, but will remain open as needed. The check station will be closed on Sunday, December 2.

Deer harvested outside of the management area will not be eligible for testing at the check station. However, hunters may get their deer tested by the Department of Agriculture's Veterinary Laboratory in Harrisburg, for a fee. Interested hunters should call 717-787-8808.

On the web: Disease Management Area Map: http://ow.ly/f9Sbp)

Sources: Pa. Department of Agriculture, Pa. Game Commission

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