We Are…CWD Free!

According to test results, there is no chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Pennsylvania Elk. Some of the testing was done at “under a contract with Penn State University.” So, We Are … CWD Free! We Are … CWD Free!

Samples taken from hunter-killed elk during the state’s 2004 hunting season have all tested negative for chronic wasting disease (CWD), according to Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Vern Ross.

I wonder why they have to restrict it to only “hunter-killed” elk. Are non-hunters killing elk that have CWD?

The good news:

“Currently, there are no confirmed or suspected cases of CWD-infected deer or elk in Pennsylvania, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that it stays that way,” Ross said. “By conducting these random tests on hunter-killed deer and elk, we will help to assure ourselves and the general public that it is unlikely that CWD is present in wild deer and elk in the state.”

The bad news:

There currently is no practical way to test live animals for CWD, no cure for animals that contact the disease and no vaccine to prevent an animal from contracting the disease. Clinical signs include poor posture, lowered head and ears, uncoordinated movement, rough-hair coat, decreased appetite, weight loss, increased thirst, excessive drooling, and, ultimately, death. There is no scientific evidence of CWD being transmitted to humans or to other non-cervid livestock under normal conditions.

Deer or elk harboring CWD may not show any signs of the disease for up to 18 months, and then death follows normally within the next year.

Those states where CWD has been found in wild or captive deer or elk herds are: Colorado; Wyoming; Montana; Utah; New Mexico; South Dakota; Nebraska; Kansas; Oklahoma; Minnesota; Wisconsin; and Illinois. In addition, CWD has been detected in wild or captive deer and elk in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Anyone who sees Pennsylvania deer or elk behaving oddly, that appear to be very sick, or that are dying for unknown reasons are urged to contact the nearest Game Commission Region Office. Individuals should not kill the animal.

What? Don’t kill an animal that may be infected with a disease that has the potential to wipe out an entire herd. That is like telling us not to shoot a rabid raccoon. Yet, out of the same breath, the PGC says:

“We also are concerned about the potential environmental contamination that could be caused by CWD, as well as the serious economic impact that would result.”

They just don’t want any help from those hunters who may come across an infected animal.

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