The Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) knowledgeable people say mature bucks are twice as likely to become infected with CWD than adult does, but that doesn’t mean that the buck deer harvest should …
The Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) knowledgeable people say mature bucks are twice as likely to become infected with CWD than adult does, but that doesn’t mean that the buck deer harvest should be increased to help slow the spread of CWD.
That was the conclusion of experts who held a CWD webinar hosted by the National Deer Association recently in Pennsylvania. CWD coordinator for the PA Game Commission Andrea Korman, presented some grim news about the progression of the disease in the state, especially in counties where it is already established.
Korman said, “The disease prevalence rate in the established area has been above 5% since 2018 and today it is 14%. That means one out of every seven adult deer harvested in an established area tests positive for CWD. The goal is to keep the prevalence rate below 5% in that area. Once that 5% rate is crossed, disease prevalence accelerates drastically. It’s clear there’s a significant problem in the established area. The best way to control the spread of CWD in the established area or any other place where the disease is present is to increase harvests by hunters.”
National Deer Association’s chief conservation officer, Skip Adams had this to say, “A deer infected with CWD, the probability of infection increases with age, but the prevalence is greater in one sex than the other. Adult bucks are twice as likely to be infected than adult does. But that doesn’t mean the way to stop CWD is by increasing the buck harvest because there are twice as many mature does than bucks in the deer population, therefore there are more antlerless deer infected with CWD.”
Korman added, “To manage the deer population, you do it through the antlerless harvest. The best management strategy available right now is to reduce deer populations in infected areas. By harvesting appropriate numbers of both does and bucks is the only way to combat CWD, which is likely here to stay. Right now slowing the spread is the only management. Once it becomes established, there’s no getting rid of it. It’s about just trying to keep it from spreading to other parts of the state.”
A deer that is harvested within a disease management area, the testing for CWD is free. For hunters taking a deer outside of a disease management area and would like to have it tested, the PA Animal Diagnostic Laboratory conducts CWD testing for a fee of $80.
If a test result is positive, officials recommend not eating the meat. To avoid paying processing costs, it is recommended quartering and freezing the deer before test results come back. If results are negative, then the quartered animal can be taken to a processor.
Wishing all a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!
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