Chronic wasting disease - CWD – in wild deer has yet to materialize in Ohio but the insidious and always fatal ailment is knocking on the state’s door.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission has reported that last year the agency’s scientists found 25 cases of the disease in that state’s so-named “Disease Management Area Number Two.” This expansive zone comprises parts of Bedford, Blair, Somerset, Fulton, Cambria, and Huntingdon counties; all of which pretty much are in south-central Pennsylvania.
Since 2012 the Game Commission has noted 47 deer tested positive for the disease; again, 25 of which were seen in 2016 alone.
The Game Commission says it collects samples from hunter-harvested deer, road-killed deer, escaped captive cervids, and any cervid displaying CWD-like symptoms.
The 25 new CWD-positive wild deer were part of 1,652 deer samples collected within DMA 2 during 2016. CWD-positive deer included 13 road-killed deer, 10 hunter-harvested deer, and two deer showing signs consistent with CWD.
In all last year the Game Commission tested 5,707 deer and 110 elk for Chronic Wasting Disease.
Also, since 2002, the Game Commission has tested over 61,000 deer for CWD. And although samples are collected from across the state, efforts were increased within three declared Disease Management Areas (DMAs). It is in these geographically designated areas of Pennsylvania which are areas in the state where CWD has been identified in wild and/or captive deer.
These areas include: DMA 1 in parts of Adams and York counties in which CWD was identified on a captive deer farm in 2012; DMA 2 in parts of Bedford, Blair, Somerset, Fulton, Cambria, and Huntingdon counties where CWD has been identified in multiple wild deer since 2012 and recently on three captive deer facilities; and DMA 3 in Jefferson and Clearfield counties where CWD was detected on two captive deer facilities in 2014.
Ohio has thus far been spared the CWD-sniper bullet, at least in so far as wild deer are concerned. Only a small portion of the state in Holmes County is under a somewhat CWD quarantine, resulting from infected animals being discovered in 2014 in a captive herd owned by a hunting preserve.
Since 2002 the Ohio departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources have jointly worked on CWD containment protocols that include restrictions on such things as baiting. All in an effort to keep CWD from jumping into the state’s wild deer herd.
To date more than 11,000 wild Ohio deer have been sampled but no CWD yet has been seen in this wild herd of animals.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn