CWD Attacking Three Animals
Inside the Outdoors, August 22
, 2014

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a subject I’ve held off from writing about until now. It seemed to be out of state and not in Pennsylvania. That has changed. Attacking white-tailed deer, elk and moose, it has been detected in Adams, Blair, Bedford and Jefferson Counties, according the Pennsylvania Game Commission. But outdoor writers are starting to bring the subject to light more and more. Of consequence, hunters who may be thinking of traveling north to do their fall hunting may encounter animals with this malady. This must be realized and recognized that they may have sick deer in their sights.

According to the PGC, CWD comes from the same family as the Mad Cow Disease. According to its website, “It was first recognized in Colorado deer and elk in 1967. The specific cause of CWD is believed to be an abnormal prior (protein infectious particle) that is found in the brain, the nervous system, and some lymphoid tissues of infected animals. It causes death of brain cells and, on a microscopic level, hoes in the brain tissue,” it said.

Captive deer as well as elk are susceptible to CWD.

There are pros and cons to this disease. First, it will lead to death for these animals. On the flip side of the coin, “There is no evidence that CWD is transmissible to humans or traditional livestock,” the PGC said.

The animals get this disease when they are in contact with each other via food and soil contamination with bodily excretions including feces, urine and saliva. “Contaminated carcasses or high-risk carcass parts may also spread the disease including through environmental contamination, which last for decades,” said the PGC biologists.

When the news first went into print in the eastern states, it was noted that deer fell victim to this disease in the bottom part of New York. Browsing over the content, it was hoped that the disease would not spread to the Commonwealth. Then when the PGC said it was found in one county in this state, and then it became necessary to watch just where it may or may go head from there. Now found in four counties, it is evident that the PGC and outdoor enthusiasts as well have to work together to keep an eye on any animals that may display symptoms.

Again, from the PGC website, it stated, “Animals infected with CWD do not show signs of infection for 12 or more months. Late stage symptoms include an extreme loss of body condition, excessive drinking, urination, salivation and drooling; and behavioral and neurologic changes such as repetitive walking patterns, droopy ears, a wide-based stance and listlessness. Some animals lose their fear of humans and predators. There is no known cure.”

The PGC pointed out that, “These symptoms are characteristic of diseases other than CWD.” Anyone seeing white-tailed deer, elk and/or moose acting strange, maybe is acting a bit bizarre, contact the PGC immediately. Beforehand, accurately document the location of the animal and immediately contact the PGC.”

The PGC, as well as a number of other organizations have joined forces to work out a response plan which details which details methods of prevention, surveillance and response designed to manage CWD. “Activities designed to reduce the risks associated with this disease are ongoing. Surveillance for CWD and other diseases has been ongoing in Pennsylvania since 1998 and will continue in order to understand the prevalence and distribution of the disease,” the PGC said.

A public meeting to discuss CWD and activities planned for the 2014-2015 hunting season will be held Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, at the DuBois Area High School Auditorium, starting at 6 p.m. The address is 425 Orient Ave., Dubois, PA, 15801. For additional information, one may call 814-432-3187 or 570-398-4744.

To find out full details on this subject, log onto the PGC’s website at


Years ago, one may remember the picturesque scene of a man fishing while his dog watched on. This scenario was put into action recently as Latrobe’s Tyler Cavener was fishing next to his four-legged companion, Claudia, on a Quemahoning stream in Somerset County. Owner of Dean’s Drain Service, the entrepreneur caught five smallmouth bass ranging from 10 to 15 inches caught on Rebel’s Teeny Crayfish all within a short amount of time.

“Wouldn’t go anywhere without him,” Cavener said. Possibly, could it be that the dog brings him good luck just being by his side or the ability of the angler or both. I like to think the latter.

On the subject of fishing, one elderly gent told me he has been catching trout from the Loyalhanna Creek on mealworms. So, I guess those sought after fish are still hittin’!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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To buy my book, Off the Wall Favorites, call me at 724-539-8850.