Washington County Sportsmen and Conservation League

©1998 Washington County Sportsmen and Conservation League

Member Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs

Affiliated with The National Rifle Association of America

September 2019 Newsletter

The main topic of discussion at the September meeting was CWD. We in Washington Co. tend to not give it much thought because there haven't been and positive cases near here. Its moving in our direction. Disease management area 2 extends west to about half of Somerset county and a good portion of Westmoreland Co. Targeted removal is the only effective management tool known to biologists at this time to control the spread. There are some hunters here in PA that oppose this.

SUCCESS IN ILLINOIS: Illinois detected its first case of CWD in Boone County in November 2002. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) increased hunter opportunities in the months that followed and additional CWD positives were found. The following year, Illinois DNR supplemented hunter harvest with targeted removals, as needed, to better evaluate the status of CWD in the local area. Through these management strategies, Illinois DNR has been able to keep CWD at bay, maintaining a prevalence of approximately 2 percent ever since. While no methods have been proven to stop the geographic spread of CWD, success seen in Illinois and other states, provides hope that Pennsylvania might be able to keep the number of infected deer low and slow the spread of disease to new areas.

CWD was first detected in Wisconsin in 2002. The following is an excerpt from the Wisconsin Game News: One farmer, got the following statements from guys who hunted on his farm in 2018: - "We had a group of five guys shoot four bucks, and all tested positive." - "Twenty-four of 43 deer we killed tested positive. All antlered bucks were positive, along with many does and some fawns. Fawns!" - "We've had seven out of 11 test positive so far."

CWD prevalence is worst from southcentral Iowa County northward to southwestern Sauk County and southeastern Richland County. Rates in adult bucks (age 21/2 and older) in that area vary from 43 to 56 percent, while rates in adult females vary from 23 to 35 percent. The article concludes with the following statement:

One hopes that skeptical hunters in states new to CWD keep these facts and accounts in mind when scoffing at the always-fatal disease. Skepticism was common in Wisconsin after the DNR documented 205 CWD cases in five counties in 2002, and it hardened after the agency again found 205 cases in 2006, this time across eight counties. But only the "true believers" kept scoffing after the DNR found 1,063 cases in 2018 across 26 counties. Meanwhile, across the border, Illinois also discovered its first CWD case in 2002. Unlike Wisconsin, though, Illinois stuck with its disease- management plan. It has documented 736 cases in 18 years, an average of 41 annually. Illinois' success documents the fact Wisconsin's CWD plan didn't fail. It was simply abandoned after a promising start. Formerly the editor of Deer & Deer Hunting magazine, Patrick Durkin is an award- winning writer from Wisconsin.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission today released a draft of its new Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan, a document that, when adopted, will guide the agency's management of CWD, which always is fatal to the deer and elk it infects. The plan is in draft form and available to view at www.pgc.pa.gov. Public comments on the plan will be accepted through Feb. 29, 2020 and will be considered in the adoption of a final plan, to be implemented for the 2020-21 hunting seasons. The draft CWD Response Plan outlines goals and objectives in managing CWD, as well as actions that could be implemented to achieve them. Potential actions within CWD areas include expanded deer seasons, the removal of deer antler-point restrictions and increased allocations of antlerless deer permits. In areas where a new, isolated CWD-positive deer is detected, allowing hunters to take additional antlered deer also is being considered. For all the details see this news release from the PGC (pdf format).

We need to get serious about CWD in Pennsylvania.

On Tuesday of this week, Harold Daub, executive director of the PFSC testified at a House Game and Fisheries Committee meeting on SB 217. This bill originally gave the PGC authority to regulate Sunday hunting, which is what the PFSC has always promoted. In order to get it passed in the Senate it was amended to 3 Sundays only, the first Sunday of archery season, the first Sunday of rifle season, and one Sunday chosen by the PGC. Trespassing while hunting was added to the bill. It made trespassing a summary offense of the fifth degree. A second or subsequent violation within a seven- year period is a summary offense of the fifth degree and may result in forfeiture of the privilege to hunt or take game or wildlife anywhere within this Commonwealth for a period of one year. The amended bill passed the Senate with very few dissenting votes. The chairman of the House Game and Fisheries Committee, Keith Gillespie, called a meeting before taking a vote on this bill and invited Harold to testify. A complete recording of the meeting can be found by clicking here. Click on "Watch Again" Harold's testimony starts at minute 24. The NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation testified after Harold. A question and comment period was held after everyone testified. This starts at minute 56. Rep. Dave Maloney, Berks County, was the first to comment. He was very upset at Harold's testimony. This isn't surprising since although he claims to be and avid hunter and conservationist, he has voted against the PGC at almost every opportunity.

The one thing that puzzled me was that the Farm Bureau, who has objected to Sunday hunting for years, was neutral on this bill after the trespass section was added. They appear to want hunters to get written permission to hunt on Sundays, but not on Monday through Saturday. How crazy is that? Also, why is it that only hunters are subject to trespass and not hikers, snowmobilers, ATV drivers or horseback riders?

Please take the time to listen to Harold's comments starting at minute 24 and the question and comments from the legislators starting at minute 56. It will give you a good idea of how our legislators operate. The Pgh Post-Gazette staff writer, John Hayes, doesn't think the bill will pass. Not all of the committee members gave comments so I couldn't read how they might vote.

Dormont Mt Lebanon Sportsmen Club is hosting a "Ladies Day" of education & shooting on Sunday, September 29th FREE of CHARGE 8:30 AM - 3:00 PM (Lunch will be provided). Minimum Age is 21 Pre-registration is required at www.nrainstructors.org

The next meeting will be Thursday, October 3rd