I just finished reading the full online document of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s response plan to stop the spread of chronic wasting disease in deer across the state. Discounting the listing of credits from literature cited, the document is 28 pages long, with a few of those pages covered by maps and graphs.
I have not yet responded to the Game Commission’s “comments page,” but I plan to in the near future. However, that response will be basically the same as what follows here.
I am pleased that the Game Commission has drawn up a strong and comprehensive strategy to combat this dreaded and always fatal disease that attacks deer and elk. I’m also pleased that included in the document are examples of past strategies used by states such as New York and Minnesota that worked to eliminate CWD, and Illinois, which has kept CWD to a minimum in a relatively small area with an aggressive policy. The mention of scientific facts concerning CWD is also a welcomed inclusion.
In contrast, the mention of Wisconsin’s choice of doing nothing concerning CWD, and the resulting spread of the disease from that inaction, and also the prevalence of CWD infecting up to 55% of bucks in some areas is also welcome information provided by the PGC. And this information should at least turn the heads of disbelieving readers.
I would suggest these couple of general inclusions to their proposed plan.
- Propose mandatory CWD testing statewide to a limited number within each wildlife management unit where CWD has not yet been detected. This could easily be accomplished by contacting one or two known processors of venison (and elk) within each unit, requiring them to submit to the PGC some of those processed body parts where CWD is found. The modus operandi by which this is accomplished can be determined later, but guaranteed reimbursement for the processors cost involvement is highly important.
- Increase pressure on government officials to better fund the future costs that will be accrued by implementing the planned strategy to combat CWD, this accomplished by the means of a large increase in press/TV coverage (best manner in which to get politicians notice), a strong push toward providing public awareness of CWD beyond hunters, showcase possible declines (or even permanently lost) revenue(s) across the state in all avenues of public and private earnings deer hunting provides, strongly publicize every instance of both political and private resistance to targeted removal by making overall public awareness of how removal is accomplished and the overall benefit versus heartfelt and unfounded resistance, and keep up to date to the reading public any and all data that is released concerning CWD from any and every source.
- Make mandatory a brief study of CWD and the problem it creates to every new hunter undertaking the Hunter-Trapper Education course.
This fight against CWD will be long and painful at times — and extremely costly — but there really is no other alternative if we want to save deer hunting in Pennsylvania at its best for now and the future.