Elk NetworkPennsylvania Hunters Should Be Aware of Enhanced CWD Protections

General | August 20, 2021

Below is a news release from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The Game Commission recently expanded regulations prohibiting the movement of high-risk carcass parts from deer, elk and other cervids to control the potential spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). These changes will impact hunters going out of state this fall or hunting within Disease Management Area (DMA) 2.

There are two changes.

First, hunters are prohibited from importing high-risk parts or materials from cervids harvested, taken or killed in any state or country outside Pennsylvania. In years past, the prohibition applied only to those parts from animals taken in states and provinces known to have CWD.

Second, hunters are prohibited from moving high-risk parts outside of the Established Area (EA), which is a subsection of DMA 2. That includes even into the surrounding DMA.

Both changes also apply to deer killed in vehicle collisions that are picked up for consumption.

High-risk parts include the head (including brain, tonsils, eyes and any lymph nodes); spinal cord/backbone; spleen; skull plate with attached antlers, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; cape, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if root structure or other soft tissue is present; any object or article containing visible brain or spinal cord tissue; unfinished taxidermy mounts; and brain-tanned hides.

“Although CWD has been detected in both captive and free-ranging deer, the Game Commission’s goal continues to be to prevent further introductions of CWD into our state and to prevent spread within the state,” said Andrea Korman, the Game Commission’s CWD biologist. “The movement of high-risk carcass parts is a potential avenue through which CWD could be spread and one that can be prevented.”

Expanding the regulation banning the importation of high-risk parts into Pennsylvania from any state or province – regardless of whether CWD is known to exist there – serves two purposes.

It takes into account the wide range of testing and surveillance in other states – not all monitor the disease the same way – and simplifies things for hunters, who no longer have to remember different rules for different areas.

“The answer is always ‘Don’t bring high-risk parts home with you,’” Korman said.

The regulation change specific to the EA reflects the state of the disease there. The EA has produced more than 90 percent of the all the cases of CWD found in Pennsylvania to date.

“CWD is difficult to manage and moving high-risk parts from a known area of infection has the potential to spread the disease to new areas,” said Jeannine Fleegle, a biologist in the Game Commission’s Deer and Elk Section. “We need to do everything we can to prevent that.”

Hunters who take a deer within the EA must either butcher it and dispose of the high-risk parts within EA boundaries or take it to a processor within the EA. Those who want to have a deer from the EA mounted must cape it to remove all high-risk parts or take it to a taxidermist within the EA.

The same rules apply to deer taken within any of the DMAs.

More information can be found at www.pgc.pa.gov/CWD. Visitors to that site can find statistics on CWD, maps and boundary descriptions of the EA and each DMA, and more.

That site also lists the location of CWD testing bins. Hunters who harvest a deer within the EA or any of the DMAs can place its head in one of those bins. Heads should be double-bagged, with antlers removed, and placed in a bin with the harvest tag legibly filled out and firmly attached to the ear.

The Game Commission tests all those deer for CWD for free and makes results available to hunters. Hunters can check their test results by calling the CWD hotline (1-833-CWDINFO) or by visiting the results lookup page at www.pgc.pa.gov/CWD.

Pennsylvania first detected CWD in 2012 at a captive deer facility in Adams County. The Game Commission has since tested more than 100,000 wild, free-ranging whitetails and more than 1,400 elk for CWD.

To date, CWD has been found in 727 deer. It has not been detected in Pennsylvania’s elk herd.

(Photo source:  Pennsylvania Game Commission)