Berks

State warns deer hunters about chronic wasting disease

Game commission urges caution

CLAY TWP., Pa. - Officials with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, hunters and others gathered at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Center in Clay Township, Lancaster County, on Tuesday for more information about chronic wasting disease.

"It's not like a disease that we're typically familiar with," said Dustin Stoner, information and education supervisor for the game commission.

But hunters are getting more familiar with it as the first case was discovered in the state in 2012 and most recently on a deer farm in Lancaster County.

That discovery prompted a quarantine zone in parts of Berks, Lancaster, and Lebanon counties.

"It's not a virus. It's not a bacteria. It's something that's not a living organism," Stoner explained. "It gets into the nervous system and into the brain of the animal, which causes holes in the brain and causes the wasting of the animal."

Hunter Ernest Peffley is concerned with it getting onto his tools.

"I have to literally destroy my butchering knives and cleavers and the likes," said Peffley, "so that's my major concern: the waste of the meat and the waste of my equipment."

The game commission is imposing restrictions on hunters ahead of the next season.

"There's going to be restrictions as to movement of high risk parts," Stoner said. "High risk parts being the head, brain matter, spinal column."

The game commission will be providing drop boxes for deer heads so that they can be sent away for testing and a hunter can find out the CWD status before consuming the venison.

It is not believed that the deadly protein can be transferred to humans, but Stoner said it's better to be safe than sorry.

"If you have a deer that you feel, that you harvest a deer and it didn't look right, it was sick, it's recommended not to consume the venison from that deer," Stoner said.

The state will be holding another workshop on chronic wasting disease on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area's visitors center, within the newly-established Disease Management Area 4 (DMA 4). Residents can learn about the latest CWD information, ask questions of agency staff and offer written comments.


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