Outdoors Notebook: Hunters asked to help in deer disease zone

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The state Game Commission has a plan to contain the spread of chronic wasting disease, and it's asking hunters for a little help.

CWD, fatal to deer but not contagious to humans or pets, has been confirmed in wild deer in only one part of the state. During the 2012 firearms season, three free-ranging whitetails, later found to be infected, were harvested in Bedford and Blair counties. Disease Management Area 2 was declared in parts of Bedford, Blair, Huntingdon, Cambria and Fulton counties where special regulations are intended to slow the disease's spread and prevent deer parts from leaving the zone. Two additional DMAs were established around deer farms in which CWD was found.

Last week the Game Commission announced it will issue special permits to hunt antlerless deer within the boundaries of DMA 2; 1,300 permits will be allocated within the zone with the intention of directing hunters to the areas where population control is needed, with hopes of reducing deer numbers there by one deer per square mile.

" ... Hunters in Wildlife Management Unit 4A -- a large portion of which is within the DMA -- have been requesting an increase in deer numbers," said Game Commission executive director Matt Hough, in a written statement. "While our CWD Management Plan guides us to increase the antlerless deer harvest in areas where CWD has been detected in free-ranging deer, it doesn't mean we have to decrease the deer population throughout an entire WMU, or as in this case, a number of WMUs. The permits allow us to more precisely direct hunting pressure into the area that most needs additional deer harvests."

The special DMA 2 doe tags will cost $6.70, the same as regular antlerless permits, but the regulations will differ.

• Only residents and non-residents ages 12 and older with valid general hunting licenses may apply. Participants in the Mentored Youth and Mentored Adult programs are ineligible. The permits cannot be transferred to participants in those programs.

• Residents and non-residents may apply for the permits on the same dates in all rounds. Applications will be accepted starting July 14.

• The permits must be used within DMA 2, and can be used during any deer season.

• Hunters issued DMA 2 permits will be required to submit reports, regardless of whether they harvest a deer.

"Harvests must be reported within 10 days," according to the Game Commission statement. "Non-harvests must be reported by Feb. 5, 2015. Those who fail to report as required are subject to criminal prosecution and may be ineligible to apply for permits if the program is continued the following year."

Strict DMA rules regulate the disposal of high-risk deer parts and their transport outside the zones. No venison consumption advisory has been issued in the DMAs -- the national Centers for Disease Control and Game Commission report that CWD can not be contracted by humans through ingestion.

The "ick" factor, however, could impact the degree of help hunters may be willing to provide.

Asian carp

Last week the national Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee announced a plan intended to remove the fish downstream from an electric barrier in the Chicago Area Waterway System while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service monitors the Great Lakes for signs of Asian carp.

Fly fishing seminars

Fishing author and Fly Rod & Reel magazine's 2011 Angler of the Year Tom Rosenbauer will present two free seminars Thursday at the Orvis Pittsburgh shop at Galleria of Mt. Lebanon mall. 3 p.m. Fishing Small Streams; 6 p.m. Reading Water and Casting Techniques. Rte, 19, 1500 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon, 412-343-1612.

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