deer in the snow

A group of does gathers at a feeder in Chester County.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s latest draft of its CWD Response Plan includes two new proposals, which could have far-reaching effects, that were not part of the original plan unveiled last fall.

The current proposal includes recommendations for statewide bans on feeding deer and using deer attractants.

Neither measure was part of the first version of the plan, which was presented to the public in September.

The plan is touted as an aggressive roadmap to combatting the always fatal chronic wasting disease, which was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2012.

To date, CWD has been found in over 450 free-ranging whitetails across 8,000 square miles of Pennsylvania.

While it has not been detected in any wild deer in Lancaster County, it has been found in captive deer kept at two farms here.

The CWD Response Plan calls for longer hunting seasons, more deer tags for bucks and does, removing antler restrictions, mandatory deer testing and sharpshooter culling, among other drastic measures aimed at stopping the spread of CWD through the state’s wild herd.

And now those measures include bans on feeding deer and using deer attractants for hunting.

Both are wildly popular practices across Pennsylvania.

Hunters and nonhunters alike put out corn and other feed for deer outside hunting seasons, especially in winter. They also put out mineral licks in spring and summer - which also would be illegal under the proposal.

Selling deer feed and mineral blocks is big business in Pennsylvania.

“Providing food and/or supplement sources to (deer and elk) leads to an unnatural congregation of animals, amplifying both direct and indirect disease transmission,” the plan states.

“Based on the negative consequences associated with this activity, it is proposed that this ban be applied statewide.”

Likewise, hunters use urine-based and synthetic deer lures during deer season to attract deer – primarily bucks – to their hunting spots.

Stores that sell hunting supplies in Pennsylvania almost always have a good selection of deer lures.

The CWD Response Plan calls for banning the use of both urine-based and synthetic deer lures because they also encourage deer to congregate.

In an April 8 news release announcing publication of the new version of the CWD Response Plan, the Game Commission states that the latest draft was shaped by “public comments and professional input.”

It’s available for review here. 

The public has the opportunity to comment on this version of the plan through May 7. A meeting of the agency’s board of game commissioners will then be scheduled to review and implement the plan.

“Obviously, there is interest in finalizing the plan before the start of hunting season, especially since the plan could well bring changes that affect hunters – maybe even hunters outside of CWD areas,” said agency spokesman Travis Lau.

Comments on the latest draft of the CWD Response Plan can be emailed to INFOCWD@pa.gov, or mailed to the Pennsylvania Game Commission ATTN: CWD Plan Comments, 2001 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797.


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