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.”

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fines And Prison Sentences Increased For Fish Poaching

Pennsylvania is setting the hook on wildlife poachers. In 2010, the state Game Code was amended to significantly increase poaching penalties, adding for the first time jail sentences for some first-time offenders. Last week, Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law House Bill 2293, which increases the maximum fine for illegally harvesting fish from $200 to $5,000 and gives the state Fish and Boat Commission authority to revoke fishing and boating privileges for as long as five years.
The law went into effect immediately. It adds a new section to the Fish and Boat Code for "serious unlawful take," increasing the penalty for harvesting more than the daily limit from a summary offense of the first degree to a misdemeanor of the second degree. It also enables the PFBC to charge violators for the costs of replacing illegally harvested fish, and increases poaching prison sentences from a maximum of 90 days to two years.
In a written statement, executive director John Arway suggested the new penalties may help deter steelhead poaching in Erie County, where every year conservation officers apprehend five or six poachers each in possession of dozens of fish over the legal limit.
"These are the individuals who deliberately come in after dark and take large amounts of game fish, often by using illegal methods such as netting or spearing in the streams," Arway said.
In another action, the governor approved House Bill 1417, which adds waterways conservation officers and their deputies to those who are protected under the aggravated assault provisions of the Pennsylvania Crimes and Offenses code.

Captive Deer From CWD-Positive Farm Roaming Free

By Bob Frye, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

One of 10 captive deer that was meant to be euthanized because of its exposure to chronic wasting disease is instead alive and well and roaming the Pennsylvania countryside.
Adams County, PA
On Oct. 10, tests results showed that a captive deer that died on a hobby-type deer farm in New Oxford, Adams County, had had wasting disease, or CWD. It was the first case documented within the state.
Officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture made public the test results a day later. State veterinarian Craig Shultz said then the plan was to “depopulate” the farm – i.e. kill the 10 remaining deer on it – to test them for CWD, too.
That was a necessity because there is no live animal test that can determine if a deer has CWD, and no treatment for the always fatal disease if there was, he said.
Shooters from the United States and Pennsylvania departments of agriculture descended on the farm Thursday to kill the deer. Nine were shot. But the tenth – named Pink 23 – broke through the fence and escaped.
Agriculture officials have been watching the farm ever since, in the hope that the deer would return to a familiar place on its own so they could shoot it. But as of 5 p.m. Monday, the deer – identifiable because of a yellow ear tag – hadn’t.
“It’s still out there,” said Samantha Krepps, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
What happens next is unclear. Krepps said the two agriculture departments and the Pennsylvania Game Commission are working cooperatively on the issue.
When asked if there was a Plan B for recapturing the deer, Krepps declined to say.
“I’d rather wait on talking about that for a bit yet,” she said.
Game Commission spokesman Jerry Feaser deferred all questions about the deer to the agriculture department.
In the meantime, the deer’s presence on the landscape is a potential threat to the state’s wild deer herd, said Kip Adams, a biologist and outreach coordinator for the Quality Deer Management Association in Pennsylvania.
The escaped deer may or may not have wasting disease; no one can say for sure. Test results from the nine deer that were killed on the farm won’t be known for several weeks yet.
But should it have the disease, this is “absolutely” the worst time of year for it to have escaped and be roaming around, Adams said.
The rut, or breeding season for deer, is about to get into full swing. Pennsylvania Game Commission research has shown that most adult female deer are bred, on average, in mid-November. Additional research specific to Pennsylvania has shown that in the weeks leading up to that time, deer – bucks and does both – travel much further and more often and come into contact with more deer than is usual, Adams said.
Given that CWD is spread by deer-to-deer contact and by deer coming on contact with plants and soils where CWD-positive deer have been, the fact that a possibly sick deer is moving around and socializing could be bad news, Adams said.
“If you had to pick the one worst time of year for something like this to happen, this would be it,” Adams said. “This is pretty scary.”
Sportsmen, meanwhile, are upset that no one from the department of agriculture released any information about Pink 23’s escape to the public. No news releases have been issued in the five days since the deer’s escape.
Some hunters have already contacted state lawmakers to air their complaints.
Pennsylvania’s woes with chronic wasting disease have already spread to another state.
Wildlife officials in Indiana -- which does not have CWD -- banned the importation of captive deer from Pennsylvania into their state as soon as evidence of the disease was confirmed here this month. But that may have already been too late.
Twenty deer escaped from an Indiana captive deer farm specializing in producing big bucks for hunting preserves earlier this year. Seven of those deer – including a buck from Pennsylvania – remain unaccounted for.
What concerns officials with the Indiana Department of Natural resources is that 10 deer imported into their state over the last three years came from the New Oxford farm in Adams County where CWD has been detected. Some of those deer ended up at the farm where the escape occurred.
That farm is reportedly not one that voluntarily allows its deer to be tested for wasting disease either.
Wildlife officials have encouraged hunters who see a deer with a yellow ear tag in any one of several counties to shoot it immediately, then call a biologist so that it can be tested.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bull Creek Members Steve Allias and Chuck Gray Featured In Newspaper Article On Advanced Turkey Hunting Class

Fall turkey season set to open

By Bob Frye Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Steve Allias will admit to having been humbled more than once.
The Arnold man has been hunting turkeys for decades and has taken his share of birds. But he’s been taken to school more than once, too.
Those failures have taught him as much as anything.
“I always say the birds are the best teachers. They’ll show you what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong,” Allias said. Learning that way can take years, though, and success in harvesting a bird can take season upon season.
Now there’s an alternative.

Club Member Steve Allias teaching handgun safety
at a recent Women In The Outdoors event
The Pennsylvania Game Commission has rolled out a Successful Turkey Hunting class, an advanced course designed to teach hunters how to find turkeys, how to call them in and how to bring them home.
“We want people who leave this class to have a real chance at success very early in their turkey hunting career,” said Keith Snyder, chief of the commission’s hunter education and outreach division. “We’re trying to give people the opportunity to gain a lifetime’s worth of experience in a single day. We want to give them that kind of head start.”
It’s all tied to hunter recruitment and retention, he said. Hunters who enjoy success are more likely to stay involved, he said.
The turkey course is new. Instructors such as Allias were trained earlier this year and so far have offered just a handful of courses around the state. The intention is to offer more courses next year, Snyder said.
One was held recently in the southwest region at Bull Creek Rod and Gun Club.
Students do precourse work at home, reading a manual that covers everything from turkey management history to calls and call types. A one-day class follows. Hunters spend the first half doing class work, some of it focused on turkey hunting safety.
The afternoon is spent in the field at different stations. They shoot shotguns on the range to see how their guns pattern at different ranges. They learn how to make different sounds on different calls. And they learn to estimate distance by standing at a set point and guessing by the distance to turkey decoys.
That last skill is harder to master, even for experienced hunters, said Chuck Gray of West Deer, another course instructor.
Having experienced hunters to help students learn that and other skills is what the class is all about, though.
“It’s to help people and give them all of the little pointers, all of the little tricks, that we’ve learned from mistakes we’ve made throughout the years,” Gray said.
The course is aimed at all sportsmen, ones new to the sport as well as veterans who have never done much with turkeys, Snyder said. The first class at Bull Creek was composed almost exclusively of adults.
Gray expects to see more young people, though.
“I’m hoping that as word gets out, more kids will get involved. I think there’s so much information we can share,” he said.
Allias agreed, noting that the course can shorten the learning curve for new turkey hunters considerably.
“I wish someone had offered this class 30 years ago,” he said.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wilber Shotton, The Last Surviving Charter Member Of Bull Creek, Dies At Age 89

Wilbur James Shotton, 89, formerly of Fawn Township, passed away Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012,in Silver Hills Assisted Living, Montgomery, Texas, where he was a resident the past two years.

He was born Sept. 4, 1923, in Steubenville, Ohio, a son of the late Wilbur W. and Anna (Lauff)Shotton. Mr. Shotton had lived in Texas the past six years and prior to that in the local area most of his life. 

Mr. Shotton was employed in the bending department of PPG Industries of Creighton for 25 years. He was also employed by the Port Authority Transit (PAT) for 14 years in building maintenance. 

A World War II veteran, he served in the Navy, where he was a ship's cook third class. He served with the Fighter Squadron Two Easy Carrier Aircraft Service Unit. He was of the Methodist faith and a member of Tarentum Moose and the Legion of the Moose No. 1, a life member of Arnold DAV, the Tarentum VFW and the AMVETS of North Braddock. 

An avid outdoorsman, he helped to organize the Bull Creek Rod and Gun Club, of which he was the last continuous charter member. He was also a life member of Frazer Township Sportsmen's Clubs, a member of NRA, Gun Owners of America and the Amateur Trap Shooters Association.

Mr. Shotton was also a member of the Western Pa. Conservancy and a member of the Friends
of Beechwood Farms. He served with Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1941, and was a
member of the National Association of CCC Alumni and member of Escort Carrier Sailors and
Airmen Association. 

Mr. Shotton is survived by his son, James David (Michele) Shotton, of Houston, Texas; three grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and sister, Elizabeth (Joseph) Bernardo, of Parkville, Md. Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife, Bessie L. (Lucas) Shotton, who passed away in August 2010; and a daughter, Shirley L. Manchini, in August 2009; brothers, Joseph, John R. and Robert C. Shotton; half brothers, William and Frank
Maudhuit; sister, Martha Rayburn; and half sisters, Margaret Bishney and Anna Reitz. 

Relatives and friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19, 2012, in the DUSTER FUNERAL HOME INC., Tenth Avenue at Corbet Street, Tarentum,724-224-1526. Services will be conducted at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, in the funeral home with the Rev. Justin R. Judy officiating. Burial will be in Mt. Airy Cemetery, Natrona Heights, with full military honors by Tarentum VFW Post 5758 and Brackenridge American Legion Post 226. Visit

Game Commission Designates Disease Management Area In Response To Cwd Confirmation On Deer Farm In Adams County

Deer feeding banned in DMA; check station established for hunters in DMA

HARRISBURG – In a continuing response to the recent confirmation of Pennsylvania’s first case of chronic wasting disease of a captive-born and raised deer on a farm in Adams County, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe today issued an Executive Order outlining a disease management area (DMA), which carries special restrictions in relation to deer within the DMA. While a map has been posted on the Game Commission’s website, the boundaries of the DMA are described below, and encompass a nearly 600-square-mile area of Adams and York counties.

As soon as the CWD-infected captive deer was found, the Commonwealth’s CWD Interagency Task Force was initiated to address the threat of the disease to captive and wild deer and elk populations in the state. Task force members include representatives from the departments of Agriculture, Environmental Protection and Health, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Geological Survey/Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and Penn State University/Cooperative Extension Offices.

The task force will carry out the response plan, which includes education and outreach with public meetings and minimizing risk factors through continued surveillance, testing and management.

“This Executive Order will enable the Game Commission and Task Force members to monitor the state’s wild deer population in the area surrounding where the CWD-infected farmed deer was found,” Roe said. “We are relying on hunters and others concerned about wildlife to work with us as we strive to manage this disease.”

As part of the Game Commission’s order, which is part of the response plan, Roe used emergency regulatory authority to set in place a variety of actions that will impact hunters. Namely:
1. Hunters within the DMA are prohibited from moving high-risk parts outside of the DMA. High-risk cervid parts include: the head (including brain, tonsils, eyes and any lymph nodes); spinal cord/backbone; spleen; skull plate with attached antlers, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; cape, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if root structure or other soft tissue is present; any object or article containing visible brain or spinal cord tissue; unfinished taxidermy mounts; and brain-tanned hides. Parts not considered high-risk include: meat, without the backbone; cleaned skull plate with attached antlers, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; tanned hide or raw hide with no visible brain or spinal cord tissue present; cape, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if no root structure or other soft tissue is present; and finished taxidermy mounts. To accomplish this, the agency will contract with processors to be available at the check station to serve those hunters who plan to move their harvest outside of the DMA without taking high-risk parts with them.
2. Hunters who harvest a deer within the DMA during the two-week firearms deer season (Nov. 26-Dec. 8) are required to bring their deer to a mandatory check station so that samples can be collected for CWD testing. For those participating in any other deer season prior to or after the two-week firearms deer season within the DMA, bringing harvested deer to the check station is voluntary, but encouraged. Deer harvested outside of the DMA will not be eligible for testing at the check station; however, hunters may get their deer checked by the Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Laboratory, for a fee, by calling 717-787-8808. The check station is the Game Commission maintenance building on State Game Land 249, 1070 Lake Meade Road, East Berlin, Adams County. GPS coordinates for the building are -77.07280 and 39.97018. The check station will begin operation from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18, through Tuesday, Oct. 23, except for Sunday, when the check station will be closed. Details about check station hours for the remainder of the early archery and the regular firearms deer season, as well as the late archery and flintlock seasons, will be announced at a later date. The benefit to the hunter is two-fold: the Game Commission will cover the cost of having the animal tested, and the hunter will be notified if the harvested deer is found to be infected with CWD. The benefit to the agency is that it will be able to test a sufficient number of deer within the DMA without having to resort to culling deer simply for testing.
3. Hunters within the DMA are prohibited from using or possessing any cervid urine-based attractants. Such attractants cause deer to congregate in certain areas and increases the likelihood that CWD could spread if it is found in the wild.

Additionally, Roe noted that the order prohibits the rehabilitation of deer within the DMA, as those deer will be euthanized and tested for CWD.

The order also prohibits the feeding of cervids, which causes deer to congregate in certain areas and increases the likelihood that CWD could spread if it is found in the wild.
Finally, those individuals with a menagerie permit from the Game Commission will be prohibited from transporting live deer into or out of the DMA, and no new menagerie permits will be issued for locations within the DMA.

The order does not impact cervid livestock operations, which are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture.

Roe reiterated that officials from the CWD Task Force, including the Game Commission and Department of Agriculture, will hold a public meeting at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 17, in the Bermudian Springs High School auditorium, 7335 Carlisle Pike, York Springs, Adams County. Staff from the two agencies will provide background information on CWD, offer an update about deer farming operations and discuss the potential management challenges should CWD be found in wild deer populations.

As noted previously, the physical boundaries of the DMA are: Starting at the intersection of Interstate-76 and the west bank of the Susquehanna River heading south along the River (21.8 miles) to US Highway 30. Westbound on US Highway 30 (18.3 miles) to Highway 116. Highway 116 towards Hanover (13.7 miles). In Hanover, southwest on State Highway 194 (7 miles) to Littlestown, then northwest on State Highway 97 (9.7 miles) to Gettysburg. In Gettysburg, north on State Highway 34 (14.3 miles) to the Idaville Road. East on Idaville Road (4.8 miles) to the intersection of State Highway 94. North State Highway 94 (2 miles) to Latimore Road. East on Latimore Road (1.6 miles) to Mountain Road. North on Mountain Road (6.9 miles) to Dillsburg and the intersection of US Highway 15. North on US Highway 15 (3.2 miles) to the Yellow Breeches Creek (County Line). Northeast along the banks of the Yellow Breeches Creek (12.1 miles) to the intersection of I-76. East along I-76 (6.4 miles) to the intersection of the west bank of Susquehanna River and the starting point.

On Oct. 11, the Department of Agriculture announced that the positive sample was taken from a captive-born and raised white-tailed deer at 1491 New Chester Rd., New Oxford, and tested as part of Pennsylvania’s intensive CWD monitoring efforts. The sample tissue was tested at the Pennsylvania Veterinary Laboratory in Harrisburg and verified at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

In addition to the Adams County location, the Department of Agriculture has quarantined three other farms directly associated with the positive deer at 6464 Jacks Hollow Rd., Williamsport, Lycoming County; 61 Pickett Rd., Dover, York County; and 295 Bremer Rd., Dover, York County. The quarantine prevents movement of any CWD susceptible animals on and off the premises.

CWD attacks the brains of infected deer, elk and moose, producing small lesions that eventually result in death. It is transmitted by direct animal-to-animal contact through saliva, feces and urine.

Signs of the disease include weight loss, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination, and abnormal behavior such as stumbling, trembling and depression. Infected deer and elk may also allow unusually close approach by humans or natural predators. The disease is fatal and there is no known treatment or vaccine.

CWD was first discovered in Colorado captive mule deer in 1967, and has since been detected in 21 other states and two Canadian provinces, including Pennsylvania’s neighboring states of New York, West Virginia and Maryland. Pennsylvania is the 22nd state to find CWD in a captive or wild deer population and the 13th state to have it only in a captive deer herd.

Surveillance for CWD has been ongoing in Pennsylvania since 1998. The Agriculture Department coordinates a mandatory CWD monitoring program for more than 23,000 captive deer on 1,100 breeding farms, hobby farms and shooting preserves.

In addition, the Game Commission collects samples from hunter-harvested deer and elk and those that appear sick or behave abnormally. Since 1998, the Game Commission has submitted for testing more than 38,000 free-ranging deer and elk for CWD, and all have tested negative.