New CWD tweaks could make hunting interesting

Bill O’Reilly would have called me a pinhead. My week began last Sunday with my getting up with a sore throat and runny nose and groaning that I was getting a cold. Then I opened the newspaper and realized that I had sent in a months-old column instead of the one I had actually written for last week.

It was a pinheaded error, indeed and I apologize to you all.

I’ve had one other incident similar to this that happened 40 years ago. At that time I was an outdoor columnist for the Elmira, N.Y., Star Gazette. I wrote a column about the opening of the New York deer season which would open next day.

This was in the days when I had to type up my column each week and send it by mail to the paper. Well, it seems they misplaced my column, so they looked around for an old one of mine in their files. The result was a column about trout fishing spread across the outdoors page on the day before deer season!

Things like that made a writer cringe. But last week was even worse in my eyes because I made the mistake. I hope you all can forgive me.

Well, the cold became worse, so an emergency visit to the doctor showed I had acute bronchitis and sinus infection. If that wasn’t bad enough, the days I was the worst were the days the city decided to replace the sidewalk in front of my house. The noise and beat of their jackhammers was exceeded only the pulsating of my headache. Yellow tape surrounded my house to keep people from falling into the huge hole they’d created, making it look like a crime scene.

Therefore, I was not able to get to the public meeting, but the news reports from that meeting tell us we better pay attention to a bunch of new rules.

Other states have been battling CWD for years and valiant attempts were made in Pennsylvania to avert an outbreak here. It appears that it all started when deer that were infected with this disease escaped from a fenced-in private deer breeding and rearing facility. I was also surprised to hear that there are actually scores of such facilities in the Commonwealth so escape was almost inevitable.

Prevention of diseases of various stripes has always been one problem faced at game farms and fish hatcheries. When so-called wild animals are raised in enclosures for release at a specific time, any disease that starts will spread quickly. Turkey farms were always on the lookout for blackhead, a common disease among turkeys.

Spreading of disease is one of the reasons that winter-feeding of wild animals is discouraged. Where a variety of animals frequent regularly and trample about on the droppings of animals and fowls alike, it is just a great place for rabies, and other maladies to be picked up.

I once toured the grounds of a large Sportsmen’s club and saw an astounding sight: a pile of corn cobs that was about 6 feet tall and 20 feet square, where wild bird and animals for a couple square miles around apparently were gathering daily for their rations. Foxes, coyotes and hawks found easy pickings there. They didn’t eat the corn, but they sure did feast on the animals who did eat the corn.

Two new areas have been set up within the state now known as DMA’s (disease management areas). DMA 1 encompasses about a 600-square-mile area that includes parts of York and Adams counties. DMA 2 spans nearly 900 square miles in parts of Blair, Bedford, Huntingdon and Cambria counties. Detailed maps of those DMAs, which form their borders along roads and water courses, are available online at the Game Commission’s website,, and also appear on pages 53 and 54 of the Pennsylvania Hunting &Trapping Digest.

The new rules are complicated and confusing. Good luck.