Pa. Game Commission seeks feedback on responding to chronic wasting disease in deer

  • Anne Danahy/WPSU

(Undated) — The Pennsylvania Game Commission hopes to get feedback on its proposed plan to respond to chronic wasting disease, a disease that’s fatal to deer and other cervids. The commission held a seminal on the disease Wednesday at the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology in Centre County.

“I think one of the hardest things about managing chronic wasting disease is you can’t really see it with the human eye. You know, the incubation period is 18 to 24 months, so it takes that long for an infected deer to show symptoms,” said Courtney Colley, the Game Commission’s chronic wasting disease communications specialist.

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal brain disease that affects animals including deer and elk. There is no known cure for it. But, it has not been found in humans.

It was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2012, and there were about 250 cases through 2018. This year, there have been about 38 cases.

Most of the detected cases have been in Blair, Bedford and Fulton counties. Colley said the prevalence rate is Bedford, Blair and Fulton counties is about 4.5 percent.

“What we see consistently in other states is it slowly spreads, and it increases every year and it will spread across the state every year unless we start taking actions against it,” Colley said.

The goal is to keep the prevalence rate below 5%.

Options in the Game Commission’s proposal include increasing hunters’ harvest, extending hunting seasons and targeted removal of deer in affected areas.

For more information on testing for the disease and to give the state feedback on its proposed response plan, go the Game Commission’s website by Feb. 29.

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