On opening day, Game Commission cautions some hunters about CWD

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Nov 27, 2017 5:00 AM

(Harrisburg) -- It's opening day for firearms deer hunting season and state game officials expect over half a million hunters to take part.

But some hunters in the midstate may want a second look at their harvest before putting it on the dinner table.

Cases of chronic wasting disease have been increasing in Pennsylvania. CWD affects the brain and nervous system of deer, eventually causing death.

Travis Lau with the state Game Commission said this year they are ramping up efforts to test more harvested deer for the disease.

The agency set up drop boxes in designated disease management areas, which include parts of Adams and Franklin Counties.

"There's maps on our website. Hunters can drop the heads of their harvested deer into these dropboxes and get a free CWD test and know the results from that deer that they harvest," Lau said.

Hunters who take a deer outside a disease management area can have their harvest tested by the state Agriculture Department for $77.

There's no known case of humans catching CWD, but it's advised not to eat deer that test positive.

Game Commission biologists say this season could see the third increase in a row in the annual buck harvest. A large acorn crop and a mild winter have allowed many bucks to grow legal or bigger racks.

Last year, more than 149,000 bucks were taken by hunters.

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