With rifle deer season in full swing, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has started taking some samples from hunter-killed deer. The commission wants to make sure Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, has not spread into Pennsylvania.
They’re taking samples of brain tissue from about four thousand hunter killed deer, collecting the samples from deer processors. Spokesman Jerry Feaser says the testing is even more crucial with the disease found in Maryland. He says the testing is focused throughout the state, but there’s a special emphasis on counties north of the Maryland line. These include Bedford, Fulton, Franklin, Adams and York Counties.
Hunters are asked to report deer that are acting oddly or appear to be sick, and not take unhealthy deer. Feaser says deer that have their head or ears drooping down, are drooling or have a thick, rough hair coat could have the disease.
The commission does a random sample to make sure they’re getting adequate representation from across the state. The testing requires brain matter from the deer. Feaser says for the most part, hunters don’t even know they’re collecting it.
CWD is fatal to deer and other cervids. There is no treatment for it. It has not been shown to affect humans. However, Feaser says hunters should still take precautions in the field, such as using gloves to field dress the deer and thoroughly washing knives used to field dress or butcher the deer. He says those knives should not be used for other purposes.
***Photo by Joe Kosack, courtesy the Pennsylvania Game Commission.