Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pennsylvania's Chronic Wasting Disease Quarantine List Grows To 12 Deer Farms

By MARCUS SCHNECK, The Patriot-News 

The list of deer farms under state Department of Agriculture quarantine had grown to a dozen by Friday, as the agency continued its “trace out” to find additional deer that had contact with the animal that was the state’s first confirmed case of chronic wasting disease.

And, one of the deer that lived in the enclosure at New Oxford with the 3.5-year-old doe that died of CWD and eight other deer remained at large, after breaking through the fence Oct. 18 as staff from the department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services were killing the entire herd.
Chronic Wasting DiseaseView full sizeDr. David Griswold of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture left, and Mathew A. Meals Deputy Secretary with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture field questions during a public hearing about a case of Chronic Wasting Disease Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012.
Fatal in deer, elk and moose, CWD is spread animal-to-animal through their saliva, urine and feces. The prions that cause it also can remain active in contaminated soil for many years.
There is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pennsylvania became the 23rd state with a confirmed case of CWD on Oct. 10, when tests on tissue samples from the dead New Oxford deer produced a positive result.

That triggered the state’s CWD response plan for action by agencies including Agriculture and the state Game Commission.

Part of the plan calls for the “depopulation” of the 1.5-acre farm at 1491 New Chester Road, New Oxford, where the first case of CWD was confirmed. That farm is now referred to as “the index farm,” according to Mathew Meals, deputy secretary of the state Department of Agriculture.
As Ag agents were carrying out that action Oct. 18, a doe named Pink 23 crashed through the fence and disappeared into the adjacent woodlot.

The New Oxford area is a mix of farms with their fields, sprawling suburban residential lots, small woodlots and winding stream corridors.

Samantha Krepps, spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture, said Friday the agents continue to search the area of the farm for the escaped animal.

Game Commission staff have spotted the deer, still sporting its yellow ear tag, but were unable to take a safe shot at it, according to Jerry Feaser, spokesman for the commission.

“We have discussed this with our officers and directed them that if they encounter the deer and the circumstances are right to put the deer down,” he noted. In addition, he said, “we would five any hunter who lawfully harvests that deer a replacement tag” to allow him to harvest another animal.

Under another part of the CWD response plan, Ag is tracing all deer at other deer farms that had contact, direct or indirect, with the deer that died. That search has produced eight farms, in addition to the New Oxford farm, two deer farms near Dover and one near Williamsport.
All 12 sites have been placed under quarantine, which prohibits the owners from moving deer, elk or moose off the site or onto the site.

The sites, and their owners, according to Ag, are as follows.
In New Oxford: 1491 New Chester Road, Ronald Rutters; 1305 New Chester Road, Carl Rockey; and 170 Dicks Dam Road, Troy Luckenbaugh, Harvest Acres.
In Dover: 61 Pickett Road, Dover and 295 Bremer Road, Dover, both owned by Bryan Rutters, Rut Acres.

In Williamsport: 6464 Jacks Hollow Road, Mike Schilling, Lost Mountain Whitetails.
In Shippensburg: 8029 Molly Pitcher Highway, William Noll, Noll’s Whitetails; 1309 Private Oak Lane, Dwain Koser, Bradly Kauffman, Koser’s Whitetail Trophy II; and 46 Springfield Road, and Dwain Koser, Koser’s Trophy Whitetails.

In Spring Grove: 5032 Eichelberger Lane, Harry Eichelberger, Bud’s Place.
In Grampian: 830 Woodel Road, Matthew Anthony, Anthony Whitetail Ranch.
And, in Smethport: 80 Bordell Cross Road, Zachary Nelson, Cole Creek Whitetails.

Ag is continuing its “trace out” process to find all possible connections to the CWD deer, according to Krepps
At a public meeting Oct. 17, Assistant State Veterinarian David Griswold estimated that the impact of the one CWD-infected deer that has already died could hit a hundred farms across the state because “deer farmers in Pennsylvania tend to move a lot of deer.”

According to Ag, there are more than 25,000 cervids – deer, elk and moose – on more than 1,100 farms across the state.
The quarantine list does not include a deer pen in the 100 block of Opal Lane in Honey Grove, Perry County, where police investigated tampering with gates that allowed several deer to escape on Oct. 20.

Meals said Ag’s procedures normally allow the owner of escaped animals five to 10 days to recapture the animals before the agency steps in to take action.
However, that can vary, he noted, and “we’re still early in our investigation.”

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