Outdoors Notebook: Chronic wasting disease found in wild deer in Pennsylvania

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For the first time, chronic wasting disease has been confirmed in wild deer in Pennsylvania. On Friday the state Game Commission announced that three deer killed by hunters during the 2012 rifle deer season were infected with CWD. Two were taken in Blair County, one in Bedford County. In October, the disease was confirmed in one farm-raised penned deer in Adams County.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence CWD can be transmitted to humans or household pets. But its presence among the state's wild deer population is a blow to Pennsylvania hunters, and will likely impact tourism spending on hunting in southcentral Pennsylvania, where CWD was detected.

The infected deer were identified during routine random sampling by the state Department of Agriculture with confirmation by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Iowa. Game Commission executive director Carl Roe said 2,945 deer were sampled for the disease statewide. With CWD confirmed in several counties in Maryland and West Virginia, priority was given to testing samples taken in Southcentral Pennsylvania.

An additional 2,089 samples were collected during mandatory testing of hunter-killed deer taken within the special Disease Management Area established in Adams and York counties following the discovery of CWD at the commercial deer farm. The disease was not detected in those samples.

Game Commission spokesman Joe Neville said it's impossible to test for CWD in hunter-killed venison, but because the disease cannot pass from deer to humans, risk from ingesting meat from infected deer is "very low." The state has not issued a consumption advisory for hunter-shot venison.

At a public meeting Monday, the Game Commission is expected to propose new measures to slow the spread of CWD, including special hunting regulations in impacted areas.

Bald eagles

Recent reports of a new bald eagle nest near Hays provide further evidence that the Steel City has cleaned up its act. But some wildlife experts are concerned that publicized details about the nest's location could draw a crowd, stressing the breeding pair and jeopardizing the nest's viability. It's OK to glace up as you pass, but don't linger near the site. The state Game Commission reports Pennsylvania has more than 150 eagle nests.

Fly fishing film

Dramatic footage of fly fishing from Thailand to the Catskill Mountains will be featured in this year's Fly Fishing Film Tour, which benefits Casting for Recovery. The traveling film festival stops at 7 p.m. next Sunday at The Oaks Theater, 310 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont. Tickets are $12 advance at International Angler in Robinson, $15 at the door. Details: 412-788-8088.

Fishing regulations

Approved Trout Waters are closed to all fishing through 8 a.m. April 13, the statewide opening of trout season. In the new category Approved Trout Waters Open to Year-Round Fishing, waters are open to year-round fishing, but no trout may be taken, killed or possessed through April 13.

Harrisburg outdoors show

File under "No Surprise." Last week the 2013 Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show was officially canceled. The expo had been postponed in February after vendors boycotted in response to a ban on the sale of military-style semi-automatic rifles. Regional legislators vowed the massive outdoors show would return in 2014.

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