Deadly deer disease sparks concern for Berks hunters

Deadly deer disease sparks concern for Berks hunters

SUSQUEHANNA TWP., Pa. - There's new safety concerns for Berks County deer hunters after a case of the deadly chronic wasting disease was discovered.

In an effort to keep hunters safe and keep the disease from spreading, The Pennsylvania Game Commission established its fourth disease management area.

"This is a very, very big deal for us, not just for the people who hunt, but for all Pennsylvanians," said John Kleini with the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs.

A newly released map shows a light gray area created by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. It's a map of the fourth chronic wasting disease management area, which includes parts of Berks, Lancaster, and Lebanon counties.

"This hits home for me, this map. I spent a good portion of my life living in western Berks County," said Klein.

Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, is a deadly disease found in deer and elk. It was first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2012. The latest case was discovered on a deer farm in Lancaster County.

Pennsylvania Game Commission representatives said some hunters may be tempted to avoid the DMA locations all together, but they advised against that.

"We are very concerned if hunters stop hunting in these areas," said Wayne Laroche, the game commission's director of wildlife management. "We won't be able to control the deer herd there, and that could actually cause a problem to become worse than it is now."

People in the management area should not feed deer, and hunters have to observe certain restrictions.

Deer with late-stage CWD will have symptoms like drooling, the shakes, drooping ears. The game commission said there's no clear evidence that the disease is transferable to humans, but it's possible.

Officials said hunters should take advantage of the free deer testing.

"It's not anything imminent, but there's plenty of reason for us to proceed with caution," said Laroche.

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