ANF eyes restriction on wildlife feeding

Times Observer file photo Federal officials have proposed a one year restriction on wildlife feeding on the Allegheny National Forest in response to a confirmed positive case of chronic wasting disease in a white-tailed deer in Warren County.

Federal officials have proposed restricting wildlife feeding on the Allegheny National Forest as a means to combat the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.

The proposal, currently out for public comments, would be in place for one year on Forest Service land only.

“The order would prohibit feeding wildlife or laying or placing any food, fruit, hay, grain, chemical, salt, or other minerals,” federal officials said in a statement.

Exceptions would be included for bird feeders at developed campgrounds unless other species are using it, those with a permit as well as federal, state or local officials who may feed “in the performance of an official duty.”

In a letter dated June 2, the Pennsylvania Game Commission expressed its support for the ANF’s feeding proposal.

“Maintaining healthy wildlife populations is integral to the Game Commission’s statutorily mandated mission,” PGC Executive Director Bryan Burhans wrote. “We need to protect our wildlife from the threats related to feeding, some of which have changed or increased in recent years.”

State officials announced the discovery of a confirmed positive test for CWD in a white-tailed deer in Warren County back in May.

The deer was discovered on a hunting preserve in the county. A map showing the range of the disease in the state indicates that the “captive positive” result here is in the northeast corner of the county.

“Remaining deer were euthanized and all tested negative for the disease,” the Department of Agriculture stated in a release. “The department has quarantined the preserve for five years. Contact tracing to determine any further exposure is in progress and may necessitate additional quarantines.”

The disease is considered highly contagious and develops slowly in the lymph nodes, spinal tissue and brains of deer and similar animals such as reindeer and elk.

According to the ANF, feeding deer “can amplify the transmission of diseases like CWD and result in long-term habitat destruction, increased vehicle collisions, habituation to humans, alteration of normal behavior patterns and pose risks to other wildlife.

“To help slow or stop the spread of CWD, we are proposing a one-year restriction on wildlife feeding activities on National Forest System land,” federal officials state. “If needed, similar short or long-term restrictions may be considered in the future.”

There is no evidence that the disease can be spread to humans.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has put new regulations in place following the discovery of a case of chronic wasting disease in Warren County.

In response to the finding, the Pennsylvania Game Commission established a new Disease Management Area — DMA 5 — in Warren County last month. The DMA includes somewhat less than one-fourth of the county — and is essentially a rectangle with Youngsville at the southwest corner, extending north to the state line and east to the Allegheny River.

It brings with it a series of regulations aimed at limiting the spread of the disease outside of the DMA.


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