The Pennsylvania Game Commission recently announced regulation changes to address the increasing threat that chronic wasting disease (CWD) presents to the state’s deer and elk.
Disease Management Area (DMA) 2 will be expanded significantly eastward, increasing its area from 2,846 square miles to 4,095 square miles. Within DMA 2, two new Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) units have been created to focus hunter effort in areas where multiple CWD-positive deer have been found. At the same time, the Game Commission has dissolved DMA 1 in York and Adams counties.
DMA 2 in south-central Pennsylvania is the only area of the state where CWD, which always is fatal to deer and elk, has been detected in free-ranging deer.
The expansion of DMA 2 is in response to CWD expanding within the DMA, and new detections of CWD-positive deer at captive facilities.
Twenty-five free-ranging deer tested positive for CWD in 2016. From 2012 to 2015, a total of 22 free-ranging CWD-positive deer were detected in DMA 2.
Since this time last year, the disease also has been detected on three additional captive deer facilities, one each in Bedford, Franklin and Fulton counties. The Bedford and Fulton facilities are within the previous DMA 2 boundary, but the Franklin County facility is 25 miles east of the previous DMA 2 boundary.
In recent years, the Game Commission has allocated and issued permits that could be used to hunt antlerless deer anywhere within Disease Management Area 2.
Those permits won’t be issued this year, but hunters can obtain up to two permits each to take antlerless deer on the two newly created DMAP units within DMA 2.
Although the function will be similar, Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans said the shift to using DMAP permits will target areas where multiple CWD-positive deer have been found.
Like the other changes being made, it is aimed at managing the disease in the most effective and efficient way possible.
“The fight against CWD isn’t an easy one, but with cooperation from hunters, landowners, partner agencies and Pennsylvania residents, we hope to move forward with efforts to minimize the impacts of this serious disease,” Burhans said.