The CWD-positive deer recently detected in Warren County has led to new regulations to reduce the risk of the disease spreading.
A new Disease Management Area – DMA 5 – has been established in Warren County, where Chronic Wasting Disease was detected in a captive deer at a hunting preserve. DMA 5 lies completely within Warren County.
CWD affects members of the deer, or cervid, family, and the disease always is fatal to the deer and elk it infects. When a new CWD-positive is detected in either a wild or captive cervid in Pennsylvania, a Disease Management Area is established to reduce risk of human-assisted spread of CWD.
Within DMAs, it is unlawful to remove or export any cervid high-risk parts; use or possess cervid urine-based attractants; directly or indirectly feed wild, free-ranging deer (it is already illegal to feed elk regardless of DMA location); and to rehabilitate wild, free-ranging cervids.
For deer hunters in DMAs – especially those who live outside the DMA – it’s important to plan the hunt and know and plan ahead of time what to do with the deer harvested. Since high-risk cervid parts can’t be removed from a DMA, successful hunters can’t transport whole deer outside the DMA. Hunters can take deer they harvest to a processor within the DMA, and the processor can properly dispose of the high-risk parts.
Hunters can also dispose of high-risk parts in trash destined for a landfill, or quarter the animal and leave the high-risk parts at the kill site. The meat, antlers (free of brain material) and other low-risk parts then can be transported outside the DMA.
Deer hunters getting taxidermy mounts also must take their harvests to a taxidermist within the DMA, or otherwise on the list of approved processors and taxidermists for the DMA in which they harvested the deer available.
The Game Commission offers free CWD testing within the DMAs. Hunters should deposit the heads of deer they harvest in one of the head-collection containers the Game Commission provides within DMAs. Antlers should be removed from bucks before the double-bagged head is placed in a collection container. Hunters then are notified of the test results.
While CWD never has been documented in humans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends never eating the meat of a CWD-positive deer.