Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is closing in on deer hunters in Adams County.
While the county has stayed clear of CWD recently, neighboring counties have had more cases, causing disease management areas (DMA) and the restrictions that go with them, to expand and get closer.
CWD first reared its head in a captive deer in New Oxford in 2012 and DMA 1 was established in the eastern part of Adams County, extending eastward. As no additional CWD cases were discovered in DMA 1 in the next five years, the DMA was dissolved.
Since then, CWD has exploded in other parts of Penn’s Woods and to the west and east of Adams County.
Nearby, the size DMA 4 in Lancaster County was more than doubled, from 346 square miles to 743 square miles, after testing by the state Department of Agriculture found CWD in a captive deer over there. The DMA has been expanded southward and covers portions of Berks, Lancaster, and Lebanon counties.
These updates and background on CWD can be found on the Pennsylvania Game Commission website at www.pgc.pa.gov..
While the eastern sector of Adams County remains clear of any DMA, the western half remains under restrictions of DMA2, which too has expanded.
The Game Commission tested 15,686 free-ranging deer and 161 free-ranging elk last year. Most were hunter-harvest animals.
A total of 204 deer tested positive for CWD and again, no elk were found with CWD.
The top three counties for new cases are Bedford (99), Fulton (56) and Blair (30). Other counties that had at least one new case were Cambria, Franklin, Huntingdon, Indiana, Jefferson, Juniata, Somerset, and Westmoreland.
The new cases bring the number if CWD-positive free-ranging deer found in Pennsylvania to 453.
Most interesting, or alarming, is the fact that several new cases were found outside on the fringe of DMAs. This explains why the areas have been expanded so greatly.
DMA2 covers the western portion Adams County and all or portions of Indiana, Cambria, Clearfield, Centre, Union, Snyder, Blair, Huntingdon, Mifflin, Juniata, Perry, Cumberland, Westmoreland, Somerset, Bedford, Fulton, and Franklin counties.
This DMA accounted for 200 of last year’s new cases of CWD and is now about 7,470 square miles, up from 6,715.
The Commission says DMA 2 expanded west into Westmoreland County as the result of a CWD-positive adult doe struck by a vehicle, northwest into Cambria and Indiana counties as the result of CWD-positive captive deer facilities, and north into Centre County and Mifflin, Union, and Snyder counties as the result of two CWD-positive adult bucks picked up as roadkills.
DMA 3 expanded southwest into Jefferson, Indiana, and Armstrong counties because of a CWD-positive yearling buck killed on the road. It now covers portions of Jefferson, Clearfield, Indiana, Armstrong, and Clarion counties. It accounted for four of last year’s new CWD cases and is now approximately 1,233 square miles. That’s up from 1,119 a year ago.
Hunters will also notice a change in opportunities to take deer within DMAs this fall.
Most Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permits within DMAs are going away because of changes to the seasons.
The commission approved increased antlerless licenses in Wildlife Management Units where CWD had been detected and passed a 14-day concurrent firearms season for antlered and antlerless deer in those WMUs to provide more hunting opportunity.
Christopher Rosenberry, the Game Commission’s Deer and Elk Section Supervisor said, “The antlerless deer license increases and concurrent seasons in these areas eliminate the need for DMAP permits in CWD areas. Because of this, most DMAP units from past years, created specifically for CWD management, have been eliminated.”
Some CWD-related DMAP permits may be available in August in “Enhanced Surveillance Units” that may be established in areas where DMA boundaries have been expanded. More on that is expected to be released by Aug. 1.
Independence Day will be the second of two Fish-for-Free Days in Pennsylvania this year. The other was May 24.
On July 4, any resident or non-resident may legally fish on Commonwealth waterways and no fishing license is required. Likewise, trout/salmon and Lake Erie permits are also not required.
All other fishing regulations still apply.
Mallard grandfather Cliff Germano reports that the brood of ducks that were the talk of Colt Park have graduated from the nest and moved on. There was a scary moment on a day when Cliff feared the worst and then discovered mama had cleverly used feathers to conceal them from danger.
Elsewhere, the wren parents in the tiny birdhouse in front our house are working feverishly to feed the little ones inside. Such a small space to fit our feathered friends not much bigger than hummingbirds and twice as speedy.
Also, Steve Waybrant is reporting regular visits by not one, but multiple black bears to his bird feeder. That they are good-sized bruins suggests they are residents and not a couple of yearlings kicked out of the den and just passing through.
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