Cwd Q&a Coming to Monroeville

By Hayes, John | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), February 4, 2018 | Go to article overview

Cwd Q&a Coming to Monroeville


Hayes, John, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Since January 2017, the number of wild deer confirmed to have chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Pennsylvania has doubled. The bad news gets worse.

"Last year we sampled about 5,700 and ended with a total of 25 [cases] outside of deer farms," said Wayne LaRoche, the state Game Commission's special assistant for CWD response. "This year we took samples from about 8,000 deer. So far, the total number of CWD positives in Pennsylvania is 55, but there will be more -we have more than 4,000 test results still outstanding."

Pennsylvania whitetails belong to all of the state's citizens, but as the Game Commission's primary tool for deer management, hunters will continue to be an important interest group. LaRoche will talk about hunter participation in CWD control at a seminar 12:30 p.m. Feb. 18 at the 33rd annual Allegheny Outdoors, Sport and Travel Show at Monroeville Convention Center at Monroeville Mall. Structured as an update followed by an open forum, he expects to get a lot of questions from hunters.

"They want to know how to tell a sick deer from a healthy one in the field. They want to know why sometimes we cull them over bait when they can't hunt them on bait, and why we don't just allow hunters to kill all the deer in a CWD hot spot," said LaRoche. "Those are good questions and once we explain it to them -the science behind this and the seriousness of the threat -they usually understand and agree to cooperate and help us out."

LaRoche may have the hardest job at the Game Commission. There is no cure for chronic wasting disease, no pharmaceutical treatment and CWD has never been completely eradicated from a wild area in which it was found. And although the number of confirmed cases is miniscule compared to the state's total deer population (no estimate but the 2016-17 harvest was 333,254), new scientific research suggests that consumption of CWD-positive deer may be more hazardous than was previously believed. …

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