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From: TSS (
Date: September 2, 2004 at 9:08 am PST

-------- Original Message --------
Date: Thu, 02 Sep 2004 11:12:43 -0500
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."
To: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Release #78-04
Sept. 2, 2004
For Information Contact:
Jerry Feaser
717-705-6541 (ext. 3106)


HARRISBURG -- While the Commonwealth's big game hunting seasons are just around the corner, thousands of Pennsylvania hunters are heading off to participate in deer and elk hunting seasons in several other states and Canadian provinces. However, with chronic wasting disease (CWD) present in free-ranging wildlife populations in eight states and two Canadian provinces, one question being asked of the Pennsylvania Game Commission is whether there are any prohibitions on returning to the Commonwealth with any game harvested in CWD-affected areas.

"The short answer is no, but the Game Commission is concerned about game legally harvested in another state or nation that hunters are bringing back to Pennsylvania, especially game taken in areas where CWD is known to be present," said Game Commission Executive Director Vern Ross. "In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture continues to maintain standards for bringing meat home from game taken in Canada.

"It's also recommended that hunters check with other states to determine if they have any restrictions on exporting certain game animal parts because of concerns about CWD."

Successful hunters returning from Canada can bring wild ruminant meat products intended for their personal use into the United States, but will need a "Veterinary Services Special Permit for the Importation of Hunter-Harvested Wild Ruminant Meat," along with one of the following: a valid Canadian export certificate for game meat, or a copy of a valid hunting license or a valid hunting tag. The permit can be downloaded from the APHIS website ( or obtained by calling the APHIS National Center for Import and Export at (301) 734-3277.

As of today, CWD has been detected in wild herds of deer and/or elk in Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Utah, Illinois, New Mexico and Wisconsin, as well as in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

First identified in 1967, CWD is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) that affects cervids, including all species of deer, elk and moose. It is a progressive and always fatal disease of the nervous system afflicting wild and captive cervids. Scientists theorize CWD is caused by an unknown agent capable of transforming normal brain proteins into an abnormal form.

There currently is no practical way to test live animals for CWD, nor is there a vaccine. Clinical signs include poor posture, lowered head and ears, uncoordinated movement, rough-hair coat, weight loss, increased thirst, excessive drooling, and, ultimately, death. There is no evidence of CWD being transmissible to humans or to other non-cervid livestock under normal conditions.

"Pennsylvania hunters heading to a state with a history of CWD should become familiar with that state's wildlife regulations and guidelines for the transportation of harvested game animals," Ross said.

Wildlife officials have suggested hunters in areas where CWD is known to exist follow these recommendations to prevent the possible spread of the disease:

- Do not shoot, handle or consume any animal that appears sick; contact the state wildlife agency if you see or harvest an animal that appears sick.

- Wear rubber or latex gloves when field-dressing carcasses.

- Bone out the meat from your animal.

- Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.

- Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.

- Request that your animal is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to meat from your animal. Or, better yet, process your own meat if you have the tools and ability to do so.

- Have your animal processed in the endemic area, so that high-risk body parts (head, brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils, lymph nodes) can be properly disposed of there. Only bring low-risk materials back to Pennsylvania: cut and wrapped meat, boned meat, animal quarters or other pieces with no portion of the spinal column or head attached, hides without the head, cleaned skull plates (no meat or nervous tissue attached), antlers with no meat or other tissue attached, upper canine teeth and finished taxidermist mount.

- Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of harvested animals. (Normal field dressing coupled with boning out a carcass will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will remove remaining lymph nodes.)

- Avoid consuming the meat from any animal that tests positive for the disease.

Ross encouraged hunters who harvest a deer or elk where CWD is known to exist to follow that state's wildlife agency's directions on how and where to submit the appropriate sample to have their animal tested. If after returning to Pennsylvania a hunter is notified by another state's agency where they hunted that their game tested positive for CWD, the hunter is encouraged to contact the Game Commission for disposal recommendations.

Hunters in areas known to have CWD should leave the head, spine and other nervous tissue at the site of the kill or dispose of them in an approved landfill.

"Hunters spend a lot of time in the woods, and are a valuable source of information to wildlife agencies across the United States," Ross said. "If hunters see a deer or elk behaving abnormally, or dying from unknown causes, contact the state wildlife agency and provide as much specific information as possible about where the animal was seen."

An inter-agency CWD task force has been formed in Pennsylvania to develop a strategic program for the prevention, early detection and eradication of CWD in wild and captive deer and elk. Members of the CWD task force represent the Governor's Office, the Game Commission, the state Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the state Department of Health, the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. The task force also is communicating with other officials throughout the United States. Prevention is one of the key goals of the plan, and hunters can play an important role by following the recommendations provided above.

Early detection is another goal of the plan. In meeting this goal, the Game Commission arranged to have more than 2,000 deer and 55 elk taken by hunters during the 2003-2004 seasons tested for CWD, and all test results came back negative. Plans are being made to test more than 4,000 deer and all hunter-harvested elk during the 2004-2005 seasons, and for the foreseeable future.

Websites for all 50 state wildlife agencies can be accessed via the Game Commission's website ( Click on the "Related Links" section at the bottom of the homepage, then select "Wildlife Agencies," and then choose the state of interest from the map. The agency is maintaining a special CWD section on its website under the "Hunting/Trapping Information" section.

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