Joint Hearing Receives Testimony About Chronic Wasting Disease

BEDFORD – A joint hearing about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was held in Bedford, PA, on Wednesday, Feb.9 by the Senate’s Game and Fisheries and Agriculture and Rural Affairs committees, according to committee chairs Sen. Dan Laughlin, R-49, and Sen. Elder Vogel, R-47.

Since first being detected in Pennsylvania deer roughly a decade ago, CWD has spread to all or part of 27 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

The neurological disease affects members of the cervid family (deer, elk, moose, and reindeer/caribou). The abnormal proteins that cause CWD are shed in saliva, urine, and feces, meaning animals can be infected via animal-to-animal contact or through contaminated environments. CWD-infected animals might not show symptoms of the disease for 18 to 24 months, but all white-tailed deer and elk that contract CWD die, there are no exceptions.

The committee heard from several state officials and experts about CWD and what is currently being done to monitor and combat the expanding problem, as well as future efforts to address the disease.

Testimony was provided to the committee by Bryan Burhans, executive director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission; Kevin Brightbill, Pennsylvania’s state veterinarian and director of the Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services within the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture; Gregory Hostetter, the deputy secretary for Animal Health and Food Safety within the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture; Torin Miller, director of policy for the National Deer Association; Josh Newton, president of the Pennsylvania Deer Farmers Association; as well as other CWD experts.

Click on the following link for VIDEO of the full hearing.

The Alliance for Public Wildlife, a group of scientists and professionals whose stated goal is establishing, developing, promoting, and defending principles and policies that will ensure the conservation of North American wildlife, has produced documents examining the science behind CWD, the history and process of its spread, and the public policy implications and recommendations for dealing with it – click on the following links for the document The Challenge of CWD: Insidious and Dire, as well as a supplement to that analysis.


Koty McGowan

Cara Laudenslager

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