PennFuture submitted the following comments, for itself and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, on revisions to USDA’s Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Program Standards.
CWD is an incurable disease that affects cervids, of which white tail deer are members. It causes a characteristic spongy degeneration of the brains in affected animals resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and death. The Center for Disease Control has stated that recent studies provide cause for concern that the disease may be transmissible to people.
The transportation of animals to and from deer farms and hunting preserves is a primary vehicle of concern for the transmission of CWD. CWD has been detected in four areas in Pennsylvania, with the most recent associated with a captive deer farm in Lancaster County. As the state National Wildlife Affiliate, PennFuture is concerned how the spread of CWD has the potential to affect Pennsylvania’s wild deer population, the management of habitat affecting other wildlife, and its affect on outdoor recreation in the state. The USDA’s CWD is a voluntary program that seeks to establish national standards to control the spread of CWD.
PennFuture’s comments support a more rigorous approach to the monitoring and regulation of farmed and captive cervids in order to prevent the spread of CWD.