The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


October 22, 2012

Deer hunters fear wasting disease

DANVILLE — Businesses and deer hunters have yet to feel the effects of chronic wasting disease.

“We’ve got just as many to be mounted as ever,” Joe Harris, of Danville’s Harris Taxidermy Studio, said about deer.

According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s website, chronic wasting disease has not been detected in the state’s wild deer population. So far, it has only been discovered in captive deer on an Adams County farm. There is no evidence that the disease can be spread to humans, according to the commission.

Chronic wasting disease affects the brain and nervous system of deer, elk and moose. It attacks the brain and causes lesions that eventually result in death.

What the disease has affected, if anything, Harris said, is the ability of hunters to travel with deer across state lines. “You can’t be crossing through a state with a deer from another state unless you have it cleaned properly,” he said. Hunters will need to have deer cleaned at taxidermists in the states where they killed the deer before bringing them back home to avoid any chance of spreading the disease.

In the case of chronic wasting disease, the deer’s spinal cord and brain cavity need to be cleaned before it can be transported. The disease does not originate from deer meat, Harris said, but spinal fluid.

It will be hard to tell this year how big an effect the disease will have, said Zeb Butler, a Danville-based hunter. “We’ll be able to tell more next year at this time,” he said.

The deer population may decrease next year anyhow due to a potentially decreased doe population. “Our deer herd is down big time because the game commission gave out way, way too many doe tags this year,” Butler said. Killing a doe can have the same effect as killing three deer, since each doe generally gives birth to two fawns, he said.

Chronic wasting disease definitely is cause for concern going forward in the hunting season, Butler said. “It’s something I spend money on every year, and I love doing it. ... If the deer herd gets wiped out, I wouldn’t know what to do.”

Cases of chronic wasting disease also have been confirmed in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.


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