In recent years, the annual deer harvests through the PA Game Commission are increasing. Just in 2016, there were 333,254 deer harvested in Pennsylvania, with 149,460 being buck (males) and 183,794 being doe (females). The overall increase in harvest was 6% from 2015’s harvest. The PA Game Commission and the hunters involved each autumn/winter keep a control on the overall population.
While most deer are taken to the processors to be ground into food for the hunters deep freezers, some are raising eyebrows when being scoped. Also in these recent years, Pennsylvania has seen some minor growth of Chronic Wasting Disease in both male and female whitetail deer. Now there are 3 – 350 sq. mile areas of Pennsylvania marked off as Disease Management Areas (DMA’s) where multiple cases of Chronic Wasting Disease has been found in Whitetail deer. With the latest shoot on sight on June 7, 2017 by a wildlife conversationalist, it indicates the disease may still be spreading.
Chronic Wasting Disease, also known as CWD for short, is a degenerative disease frequently found in deer an other animals which may be most comparable to Mad Cow Disease. This disease targets Brain tissue and is always fatal to the animal that contracts it and is contagious from either eating meat from its body or coming in contact with its bodily secretions such as saliva, urine, or blood. A picture of a Whitetail deer with the contracted disease is shown above. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released a statement about how there have never been recorded cases where a human has contracted the disease but still warns against coming in contact with it. The CDC has also recommended for hunters to get their deer tested for free after harvesting it and not to eat anything from the deer if the results are positive.
The PA Game Commission is currently working on handling this disease and paying more attention to the deer inside these Disease Management Areas. Hopefully able to contain and eradicate the disease for good in the Pennsylvania woods.