Hunters can help fight chronic wasting disease


Harrisburg, Pa. — The Wolf Administration released a report detailing coordinated efforts of state and federal agencies and Pennsylvania research institutions to combat chronic wasting disease, a contagious, fatal disease that threatens deer.

The report outlines the status of the disease in Pennsylvania, as well as the work in progress to offer testing and other services to hunters, help deer farmers maintain their livelihoods and diminish disease spread and environmental impact.

Chronic wasting disease is a highly contagious disease that develops very slowly in the lymph nodes, spinal tissue and brains of deer and similar animals like reindeer and elk. It does not affect other livestock. There is no evidence that it can be spread to humans.

The report offers advice hunters and others can follow to minimize risks and links to key disease-prevention resources.

  • Participate in testing. Free testing is available for any deer harvested in a disease management area, or DMA. If you harvest a deer, deposit the head, with your completed harvest tag affixed to the deer’s ear, in a head collection container.
  • If you are hunting within a DMA, before you leave the DMA, deposit high-risk parts from your deer in a high-risk parts disposal dumpster. High-risk parts include the head, lymph nodes, spleen and spinal column. You may also dispose of any other unused deer parts in these dumpsters.
  • Do not shoot, handle or consume an animal that appears sick; report the animal to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Submit harvest tags and samples while hunting in chronic wasting disease DMAP areas.
  • Wear gloves when handling any cervid carcass and follow proper guidelines for processing venison. Have dedicated knives and utensils for processing game meats.
  • Refrain from consuming high-risk tissues and organs (brain, heart, etc.)
  • Avoid use of natural urine-based lures.
  • If unable to deposit in DMA disposal dumpster, double bag high-risk parts and dispose of in an approved landfill.

Find the complete report and more information about efforts to combat chronic wasting disease in Pennsylvania at


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