Hunters within the state’s Disease Management Areas (DMAs) have the opportunity to have their deer tested – free of charge – for chronic wasting disease (CWD), and at the same time help the Game Commission fight this deadly disease.
The Game Commission has installed large metal bins at about two dozen locations for the collection of harvested deer heads within DMA 2 and DMA 3. The bins, which are similar to those used for clothing donations, keep contents secure and are checked and emptied every other day through the deer-hunting seasons.
All deer heads retrieved from the bins that can be tested for CWD, will be tested, and the hunters who submitted them will be notified of the results as soon as they’re available.
This initiative not only benefits the hunter by identifying deer that shouldn’t be consumed, it helps the Game Commission assess and monitor progress of the disease and the effectiveness of future management actions.
“CWD is an increasing threat to Pennsylvania’s deer and elk, and our hunting tradition,” said Wayne Laroche, Game Commission Special Assistant for CWD Response. “So far this year, the number of CWD-positive deer detected in DMA 2 has increased at a faster rate; the first free-ranging CWD-positive deer has been found within DMA 3; and three new deer farms have turned up positive within DMA 2.
“Still, prevalence of the disease in Pennsylvania is low,” Laroche said. “There’s still a chance to minimize the disease’s impacts on wild deer. And it’s a win-win scenario for the hunters who bring the heads of their harvested deer to a collection bin. Not only do they help protect wild deer against the disease’s spread, if they shoot a diseased animal, they’ll know about it and can discard the meat.”
Collection bins were placed within both DMA 2 and DMA 3 in early October, and many of the deer heads dropped off there during the statewide archery deer season already have been tested for CWD, with the hunters notified of the results. The bins will remain in use through the late archery and flintlock deer seasons.