HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s statewide deer seasons have come to a close, and within the next several weeks, final chronic wasting disease test results will return from deer harvested by hunters in the 2017-18 seasons.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission collects samples from deer harvested across the state and tests them for chronic wasting disease (CWD), as part of the agency’s ongoing CWD surveillance.
Within the state’s Disease Management Areas – where the disease has been detected in captive and free-ranging deer – intensified sampling occurs.
This past hunting season, the Game Commission offered free CWD testing for hunters harvesting deer within Disease Management Areas (DMAs). Free testing offered hunters a way to have their deer tested prior to consuming it, and it provided the Game Commission with additional samples to better pinpoint areas where the disease exists, so specific problem spots might be addressed.
Successful hunters within DMAs dropped off heads from more than 1,500 deer in the boxes. About 1,000 of these samples already have been tested for CWD, with the results reported to hunters.
Additionally, Game Commission staff collected more than 3,000 other samples within DMAs to test for CWD. In total, nearly 8,000 samples were collected statewide. Slightly more than 5,700 whitetails were tested for CWD in 2016; 25 tested positive, all were in or near DMA 2, the only area of the state where CWD has been detected in the wild.
At this time, 51 deer from the 2017-18 hunting seasons have tested positive for CWD. All have been within the DMAs. Forty-eight were within DMA 2, in southcentral Pennsylvania; and three were within DMA 3 in northcentral Pennsylvania.
But the majority of samples collected still are being analyzed.
For more information on CWD, the rules applying within DMAs or what hunters can do to have harvested deer tested for CWD, visit the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.state.pa.us. Information can be found by clicking on the button titled “CWD Information” near the top of the homepage.
Final CWD test results from the 2017-18 deer seasons will be released when available.
COMMISSIONERS TO DISCUS SEASONS — The Board of Game Commissioners will hold its first quarterly meeting of 2018, from Jan. 28 through 30 at the agency’s Harrisburg headquarters.
On Sunday, Jan. 28, beginning at 1 p.m., the commissioners will hear public recommendations for 2018-19 hunting and furtaking seasons and bag limits. Doors will open at noon. Individuals interested in offering public testimony – limited to five minutes – may register on a first-come, first-to-speak basis.
On Monday, Jan. 29, the board will gather any additional public comments and hear Game Commission staff reports beginning at 8:30 a.m. Doors open at 7:45 a.m. Registration for those interested in offering public testimony – limited to five minutes – also will begin at that time.
PowerPoint presentations are not permitted during public comment periods.
On Tuesday, Jan. 30, beginning at 8:30 a.m., the board will take up its prepared agenda to, among other initiatives, give preliminary approval to hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits for 2018-19. Doors open at 7:45 a.m.
Antlerless deer license allocations for the 2018-19 seasons will be presented for the board to consider at its meeting in April. Harvest results from the 2017-18 deer seasons will be announced in mid-March.
The agenda for the January meeting is available at the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.pa.gov. Under “Quick Clicks,” on the left side of the homepage, select “Meetings of the Board & Upcoming Events,” then click the link provided in the description of the Tuesday, Jan. 30 meeting.
The Game Commission’s headquarters is located at 2001 Elmerton Ave., just off the Progress Avenue exit of Interstate 81 in Harrisburg, Dauphin County.
Those unable to attend the meeting can watch much of it from home.
The meeting is scheduled to be live-streamed beginning Monday morning, immediately following the conclusion of public comments. The livestream can be accessed through the agency’s website, www.pgc.pa.gov, though viewers may need to log in to a free account to access the stream. In addition, the full Board meeting on Tuesday is to be live-streamed beginning at 8:30 a.m.