The Colorado and Pennsylvania Game Commissions are seeking new hunting regulations as a means of fighting the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in their deer populations.
CWD affects the central nervous system of deer, moose and elk. The symptoms may not be immediately recognized, but infected animals usually die within two to three years of contracting the disease. Animals in the latter stages of the disease exhibit disorientation, emaciation, excessive drinking and drooling.
Wildlife experts in Colorado claim 16 percent of the state’s wild male deer population carry CWD. They plan to present a comprehensive management plan to fight the spread of the fatal disease in September, 2018.
Proposals to curb the spread of CWD include more rigorous testing policies, limiting transportation of carcasses across state lines, new disposal requirements for infected carcasses and greater effort to hunt large deer herds that may contain infected animals.
“We’re at a very critical point. We need to do something. This is not only in Colorado. It is nationwide. And there are other states that have a higher prevalence,” said Colorado Wildlife Commissioner Marie Haskett, per the Denver Post.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission announced in a press release that it has updated an executive order forbidding hunters from bringing whole deer carcasses back into the state from New York, Ohio, Maryland and West Virginia. The import of meat is allowed as long as the backbone has been removed.
“As we’ve seen in Pennsylvania, just because CWD appears confined to a specific area, doesn’t mean it won’t turn up somewhere completely new, miles away,” said executive director Bryan Burhans.
“Tightening up this order puts teeth in the Game Commission’s ability to enforce it, allowing us to better protect our deer and elk from CWD.”