Wolf administration details effort to combat CWD

HARRISBURG The Wolf Administration today released a report detailing coordinated efforts of state and federal agencies and Pennsylvania research institutions to combat Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, 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.

"CWD threatens one of Pennsylvania's prized natural resources," Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. "This administration has taken aggressive steps to contain the disease through a scientific, fact-based approach. We are using new genetic testing tools to help predict which deer will contract the disease, funding research to help better understand and trace the disease and working together strategically to control its spread."

CWD 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 Department of Health is committed to a healthy Pennsylvania," Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. "There is a lot we still need to learn about the impact CWD has on human health. That is why it is essential that each individual remains vigilant to reduce the risk of human exposure to CWD."

"As a member of the CWD Task Force, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is committed to working with other agencies and stakeholders to combat the spread of CWD through public education and outreach, effective deer management strategies, increased testing and other public policy initiatives based on sound science," said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. "Although there is still work to be done, DCNR applauds the administration's leadership and efforts of the collective agencies to prevent the further spread of this disease."

"Managing Chronic Wasting Disease is one of the greatest wildlife challenges we face," said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. "It requires that we marry the best science with hunter cooperation over the long term. The good news is that wildlife managers and hunters partnered to save deer and deer hunting once before, more than a century ago. Our ability to succeed again now is dependent on the support of our hunters and private landowners to help us combat this disease."

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 CWD 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.

The report was compiled by Pennsylvania's Chronic Wasting Disease Taskforce, formed in 2003 to develop a strategic response to the disease first detected in the U.S. in 1967 in the Pennsylvania in 2012. The task force includes the Pennsylvania departments of Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources, Environmental Protection and Health, and the PA Game Commission, as well as the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Find the complete report and more information about efforts to combat CWD in Pennsylvania at agriculture.pa.gov/CWD.

HANOVER EAGLE CAM BACK FOR THE SEASON

HARRISBURG - A new season of live-streamed action from a bald-eagle nest near Codorus State Park in Hanover, Pa. is underway.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission today announced its popular Eagle Cam, a joint project with partners HDOnTap and Comcast Business, has returned.

The Hanover cam is one of two bald-eagle livestreams the Game Commission, HDOnTap and Comcast Business are planning this nesting season. No date has been selected for the launch of the Farm Country Eagle Cam.

This is the seventh year for the 24-7 livestream at the Hanover nest. HDOnTap Co-Founder Tiffany Sears said the company is excited the action has begun.

"This is one of our most popular live cameras," Sears said. "Since 2015, viewers have enjoyed ?over 40 million hours of 24-7, live HD video? and audio from the nest, as well as daily time-lapse clips on screens worldwide."

The last two seasons have been tough ones for the eagles at the Hanover nest. No chicks have hatched in either. Last season, viewers watched patiently as the pair of adult eagles took turns incubating their clutch of two eggs, but by late March, the eggs still hadn't hatched and were deemed unviable.

Eagle-lovers everywhere are hoping this year will be different.

Comcast Business? has generously signed on for another year to provide the Internet connectivity for both Eagle Cam livestreams.

"Comcast Business is proud to again partner with HDOnTap to provide fast, reliable and secure Internet service that will enable nature enthusiasts to continue watching and learning about these amazing bald eagles," said Aaron Mimran, Vice President of Comcast Business for the company's Keystone Region.

"HDOnTap is also thrilled to be working again with Raptor Biologist, Zoey Greenberg, on the Hanover Bald Eagle Blog, to help share with viewers educational information, photos and video highlights pertaining to Bald Eagles and specifically the events at the Hanover nest," says Tiffany Sears. The blog can be found at: ?https://hdontap.com/index.php/articles/type/category/hanover_eagle_updates. ?

The Hanover, Pa. livestream can be found at www.pgc.pa.gov and on HDOnTap's website, where it can be found on HDOnTap's ?Live Hanover Bald Eagles ?page.

"The resurgence of bald eagles in Pennsylvania represents one of the greatest conservation success stories in the country," said Steve Smith, director of the Game Commission's Bureau of Information and Education. "It's a product of decades of planning and hard work by Game Commission staff. We are excited for this opportunity to once again bring this pair into homes and schools across the country through the livestream."