The National Deer Association, an organization focused on wild deer and hunting, called on Pennsylvania to return regulatory oversight of captive deer shooting facilities to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
State legislators transferred authority over deer farms and boar farms from the commission to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in 2006, as the commission considered a series of tough regulations to govern deer farms.
At the time, the always-fatal chronic wasting disease was being detected in a growing number of states. It was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2012 on a small deer farm in Adams County and has since been detected in enough other parts of the state for the Game Commission to place nearly 25% of state in chronic wasting disease management areas.
“Each positive installation at CWD negatively impacts tens of thousands of hunters and wild deer in Pennsylvania,” said NDA conservation officer Kip Adams.
He noted that on April 11, the Game Commission announced the creation of a new chronic wasting disease management area and the expansion of two existing DMAs. The new DMA 7 was created when CWD was detected in a captive deer facility in Lycoming County. The DMA represents the fifth of seven DMAs to be created due to a captive installation.
“PGC has the biological and law enforcement personnel necessary to oversee captive deer hunting facilities, and full authority over these facilities would help protect the state’s wild deer resources and 1 $.6 billion that hunting contributes annually to Pennsylvania’s economy.”
In response, Josh Newton, president of the Pennsylvania Deer Farmers Association, directed PennLive to testify at a joint legislative hearing on Feb. 12, where he said, “There are currently task forces and groups of work in place that enable communication efforts between the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the Pennsylvania Game Commission. They also include the Governor’s office and various deer industry stakeholders.
“It could be revamped, for lack of a better term, to have more collaborative meetings, but our industry, it’s important to remember that we asked to be placed under the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture for a reason. very specific and that was because they are animal health. professionals. They have a great team of vets. They are able to meet our needs as a livestock industry.
“We have blurred lines because the species exists outside the fence, but I don’t think that takes away from the needs we have as an animal industry. I think it’s very important for us to maintain that regulatory status within the Department of Agriculture.
He explained that the number of deer farms in the state jumped from about 1,200 to about 700 when existing regulations on herd certification and monitoring came into effect in 2014 through the Department of Nature. ‘Agriculture.
These programs are “designed to quickly identify the disease, allow real control measures to be put in place by preventing the spread or removal of all live animals,” he said.
The National Deer Association pointed out that 10 herds of captive deer in the voluntary certification program and 25 herds in the mandatory surveillance program are positive for CWD, “and the number continues to climb. Eighteen of these captive facilities still have deer on them.
“This is completely unacceptable from a disease management perspective, and it continues to threaten the wild deer resources of Pennsylvania and all deer and elk enthusiasts in Keystone State.”
“The transfer of administration and enforcement responsibilities for laws and rules relating to captive deer hunting facilities from PDA to PGC will ensure consistency and efficiency in the management of deer and chronic wasting disease. in the state. Currently, PDA has authority over deer in captivity, while PGC has authority over wild deer. Transferring authority from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture over captive deer hunting facilities to the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission will help protect Pennsylvania’s wildlife resources and limit the spread of chronic wasting disease and the number of athletes who are affected.
According to Game Commission communications director Travis Lau, “The Game Commission agrees to oversee the state’s captive deer hunting facilities and the activity that takes place there.
“As the agency responsible for the management and protection of Pennsylvania’s wildlife resources, to ensure that these facilities comply with their permit requirements and that measures to control the spread of chronic wasting disease are employed. consistently within facilities and outdoors, ultimately provides the best protection for Commonwealth wildlife and habitats.
- More deer with the deadly chronic wasting disease lead to expanded status response
For the Department of Agriculture, press secretary Shannon Powers provided this response: “In 2006, the General Assembly gave the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture the authority and legal obligation to regulate operations of deer in captivity, transferring that authority from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
“Captive deer businesses support hunters, providing sport hunting, products used by hunters, and breeding stock for hunters. Hobbyists who raise deer for petting zoos, holiday events, and their own enjoyment are also part of captive deer farms.
“If the General Assembly wishes to transfer obligation and authority, the Wolf administration will initiate a conversation. At this stage, no legislation has been proposed.
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