The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced a confirmed positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a white-tailed deer on a Warren County hunting preserve.
Remaining deer were euthanized and CWD was not detected in any of the samples. The department has quarantined the preserve for five years. Contact tracing to determine any further exposure is in progress and may necessitate additional quarantines.
“Pennsylvania has taken CWD very seriously, taking aggressive steps to contain the disease, using a scientific, fact-based approach,” State Veterinarian Dr. Kevin Brightbill said. “We will continue to investigate and implement rigorous controls on any business whose deer may have been exposed, and we are working with New York state regulatory partners to mitigate the threat.”
CWD is a highly contagious disease that develops very slowly in the lymph nodes, spinal tissue and brains of deer and similar animals like reindeer and elk. It does not affect other livestock. To date there is no evidence that it can be spread to humans.
The PA Department of Agriculture oversees the state’s deer farming industry. Pennsylvania’s 760 breeding farms, hunting preserves and hobby farms provide breeding does, breeder and trophy bucks, semen, embryos, antlers and urine products to Pennsylvania and states across the nation.
In 2020, the department established a CWD Core Captive Management Zone, implementing aggressive measures to control the disease in the area of the state where it is most prevalent, while allowing deer farms to stay in business.
A map of farms that have had CWD-positive deer, and locations of positive deer in the wild can be found on the agriculture department’s website, along with information by county on farms under quarantine.
The new detection will also result in a new CWD Disease Management Area (DMA) being established. The Pennsylvania Game Commission is working to delineate the new DMA’s boundary, which will be finalized and announced in the coming weeks.
Within DMAs, specific regulations meant to slow or stop the human-assisted spread of CWD across the landscape apply. It’s illegal within DMAs to rehabilitate injured deer, possess or use cervid urine-based attractants and feed free-ranging deer. Hunters who harvest deer in DMAs may not transport those deer outside of a DMA without first removing the high-risk deer parts.
Those who live or hunt in the area that is likely to fall within the new DMA’s boundaries are urged to watch for the coming announcement and visit pgc.pa.gov where the most up-to-date CWD information always can be found.
Advice for hunters, processors and taxidermists for safe handling of deer carcasses, and information about requirements for deer farms can be found at agriculture.pa.gov.
Find more information about comprehensive efforts to control CWD in Pennsylvania in the 2020 report, “Combatting CWD in Pennsylvania.”