Special rules now apply in parts of Lancaster, Lebanon and Berks counties.
People who live and hunt deer within parts of Lancaster, Lebanon and Berks counties now need to comply with special rules intended to slow the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD).
The Pennsylvania Game Commission today established Disease Management Area 4 (DMA 4) in response to a CWD-positive deer recently detected at a captive deer farm in Lancaster County.
DMA 4 encompasses 346 square miles in northeastern Lancaster County, southeastern Lebanon County and western Berks County. The northern part of DMA 4 runs roughly between the cities of Lebanon and Reading. The DMA includes the boroughs of Adamstown, Denver, Ephrata, Mohnton, Richland, Womelsdorf and Wyomissing. State Game Lands 46, 220, 225, 274 and 425 are included in DMA 4.
Within DMAs, special rules apply. The intentional feeding of deer is prohibited. Hunters may not use urine-based deer attractants or possess them while afield. And hunters who harvest deer within a DMA may not transport the carcass outside the DMA without first removing and properly disposing of all high-risk deer parts, including the head and backbone.
While the rules might pose an inconvenience, they are meant to slow the spread of CWD, which so far has been detected in only a few parts of the state.
“CWD is an increasing problem in Pennsylvania, and as the disease emerges in new areas, more Pennsylvanians are impacted,” said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “To this point, however, CWD has been detected in captive or free-ranging deer only in a few, isolated areas of the state. That’s good news for all Pennsylvanians who enjoy deer and deer hunting. And we continue to focus our resources on ways to minimize CWD’s impacts statewide.”
CWD, which is always fatal to deer, elk and other cervids, first was detected in Pennsylvania in 2012 at a captive deer farm in Adams County. CWD has been detected among free-ranging deer in two areas of the state.
In addition to establishing DMA 4, the Game Commission will increase its CWD sampling there.
Within DMA 4, the agency will begin testing all known road-killed deer for CWD. Come hunting season, bins for the collection of deer heads and other high-risk deer parts will be placed in areas for the public to use. Hunters who deposit the heads of the deer they harvest in designated collection bins will be able to have their deer tested, free of charge. And DMAP permits for use within DMA 4 will be available for purchase.
Wayne Laroche, the Game Commission’s special assistant for CWD response, said increased sampling within DMA 4 is necessary to find out whether CWD exists among free-ranging deer there, and adjust the response accordingly.
“We need to know the full extent of the CWD problem in any area where the disease exists,” Laroche said. “We have not detected CWD among free-ranging deer in DMA 4, and maybe we won’t. But if CWD is out there, we surely need to know about it to confront it head-on.”
Information on CWD and Pennsylvania’s DMAs, including maps of all DMAs, is available at www.pgc.pa.gov.
DMA 4 boundary
The exact boundary of DMA 4 is as follows: Beginning in the northwestern extent of the DMA in the city of Lebanon, at the intersection of state Route 897 and U.S. Route 422, proceed east on U.S. Route 422 for 12.3 miles to state Route 419. Turn left on state Route 419 and proceed north for 2.3 miles to Christmas Village Road (state Route 4010). Turn right, proceeding east on Christmas Village Road for 5.1 miles to North Heidelberg Road (state Route 3033). Turn left on North Heidelberg Road, proceeding northeast for 0.6 miles to state Route 183. Turn right on state Route 183, proceeding southeast for 7.7 miles to the U.S. 222. Turn right on U.S. 222 proceeding southwest for 3.2 miles to the interchange with U.S. Route 422 Bypass. Proceed on U.S. Route 422 Bypass for 2.4 miles to intersection with Business Route 222E (Lancaster Avenue). Proceed south on Business 222E for 0.6 miles to the intersection with state Route 625. Turn left onto state Route 625 and proceed south for 16.7 miles to the intersection with Route 23. Turn right on Route 23, proceeding westerly for 9.7 miles to intersection with state Route 772 (Glenbrook Road). Turn right on state Route 772, proceeding northwest for 9.3 miles to state Route 501 (Furnace Hills Pike). Turn right on state Route 501, proceeding northerly for 5 miles to the intersection with U.S. Route 322 (West 28th Division Highway). Turn left on U.S. Route 322, proceeding westerly for 1.3 miles to the Pennsylvania Turnpike (U.S. Route 76). Move right along U.S. Route 76, proceeding east for 0.7 miles to the western boundary of State Game Lands 46. Proceed north, then east for 1.2 miles along the game lands boundary to state Route 501 (Furnace Hills Pike). Turn left on state Route 501, proceeding north for 4.1 miles to the intersection with state Route 419. Turn left, proceeding west for 0.1 miles to state Route 897 (South 5th Street). Turn right on state Route 897, proceeding northwest for 6.2 miles to the starting point at the intersection of state Route 897 and U.S. Route 422.
CWD in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, the Game Commission oversees the management and protection of all free-ranging deer, while farm-raised deer and facilities are overseen by the state Department of Agriculture. The agencies work together to monitor chronic wasting disease.
After CWD was detected in 2012 at a captive deer farm in Adams County, the Game Commission established Disease Management Area 1 (DMA 1), a nearly 600-square-mile area in Adams and York counties, in which restrictions regarding the hunting and feeding of deer applied.
CWD was detected among free-ranging deer a few months later, in three deer harvested by hunters in Bedford and Blair counties in the 2012 firearms season. The deer were detected through the Game Commission’s ongoing CWD surveillance program.
Those CWD-positive deer resulted in the creation of DMA 2, which initially encompassed nearly 900 square miles in parts of Bedford, Blair, Cambria and Huntingdon counties, but since has expanded annually due to the detection of additional free-ranging and captive CWD-positive deer. DMA 2 now encompasses more than 2,845 square miles in parts of Adams, Bedford, Blair Cambria, Clearfield, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon and Somerset counties.
So far, 104 free-ranging CWD-positive deer, and 46 of CWD-positive captive deer, have been detected within DMA 2.
In 2014, CWD was detected at a captive deer farm in Jefferson County, leading to the creation of DMA 3, which encompasses about 350 square miles in parts of Clearfield, Indiana and Jefferson counties. In July 2017, a sick-looking adult buck euthanized a month earlier on state game lands in Clearfield County, within DMA 3, was confirmed as CWD-positive. An additional CWD-positive deer was detected within DMA 3 in the 2017-18 hunting season.
In 2017, the Game Commission eliminated DMA 1 after five years of monitoring, which included the testing of 4,800 wild deer; CWD never was found in the wild within DMA 1.
Hunters harvesting deer within DMAs are prohibited from transporting the high-risk parts of those deer (head and backbone) outside the DMA. If those hunters live outside the DMA, and are processing the deer themselves, they must remove and properly dispose of the high-risk parts before taking other parts of the deer home.
Deer meat may be transported outside a DMA so long as the head and backbone have been removed. Antlers may also be transported from a DMA if the skull plate is free of visible brain material.
Hunters using professional meat processors to process the meat from deer they harvest within a DMA must take the deer to processors within the DMA, or otherwise included on the list of approved processors associated with that DMA. There’s also a list of approved taxidermists associated with each DMA.
The feeding of deer and the use or field possession of urine-based deer lures while hunting also are prohibited within DMAs.