Curious to know what you think about Commission honor

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has sent out a number of news releases in the last week and here is one that will draw a plethora of responses I am sure.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has been named the Quality Deer Management Association’s Agency of the Year.

“A comparison to other states clearly shows how successful Pennsylvania’s deer management program is,” Kip Adams, QDMA director of conservation, said. “The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s deer management plan and research program are based on science and public input and have consistently received high approval from the public and hunters in surveys.”

In presenting the award, Adams referred to statistics from QDMA’s own 2018 Whitetail Report, an annual checkup of the status of whitetails and deer hunting in North America.

He highlighted the following:

n Pennsylvania is one of only five states in the U.S. to harvest more than 300,000 whitetails annually.

n In 2016 — the most recent season for which data from all whitetail states is available — hunters in Pennsylvania harvested 3.3 antlered deer per square mile, the second-highest buck harvest rate in the nation that year. Michigan came in first with 3.5 antlered deer harvested per square mile.

n The 2016 season was the eighth year in a row that at least half of Pennsylvania’s antlered deer harvest was 2¢ years or older.

n Hunters in Pennsylvania in 2016 also harvested more than four antlerless deer per square mile, the third-highest antlerless harvest rate in the nation.”

While you are digesting all of thta — as if we didn’t have enough trouble trying to combat deer ticks which give us Lyme Disease — the Game Commission announces that they have found a new variety of dangerous tick in this state.

Pennsylvania’s first longhorned tick has turned up in Centre County’s Potter Township.

The identification was confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory.

A single longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) was identified on an adult, male wild white-tailed deer that was euthanized on July 10 by Game Commission personnel because it was exhibiting signs consistent with chronic wasting disease, according to Dr. Justin Brown, agency wildlife veterinarian. The deer was diagnosed with severe pneumonia and no CWD prions were detected.

Ticks were collected from the deer at the laboratory as part of the Game Commission’s active longhorn tick surveillance program. The suspected longhorn tick was sent to and first identified by the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens, Ga., and subsequently confirmed at the NVSL.

The longhorned tick, also known as the “cattle tick” or “bush tick”, is an invasive parasite native to Southeast Asia. It currently is not known when, where or how this tick was introduced into North America. However, it was first found and identified on a sheep in New Jersey during 2017. Since then, it has been identified in wild and domestic animals in other states, including Virginia, West Virginia, New York, Arkansas and North Carolina.

The longhorned tick, during its three life stages can be found on birds, wild and domestic mammals and humans. To date, the tick has been identified on goats, raccoons, horses, cattle, sheep, humans, an opossum, deer and dogs.

The longhorned tick can negatively impact the health of humans and animals both directly and indirectly. Longhorned tick infestations can reach very high numbers on an animal host, which can result in disease and, in some cases, death.

The longhorned tick, in its native range, can carry many pathogens that may cause diseases such as babesiosis, anaplasmosis, theleriosis, ehrlichiosis and Powassan encephalitis in animals or humans. To date, none of these pathogens have been identified in longhorned ticks from North America. However, testing has been limited.

“The preventive measures currently used for our native ticks are the best way to protect yourself and animals from the longhorned tick,” Brown said. “They include frequent tick checks, prompt and proper removal of any attached ticks, avoiding or removing the high grasses or brush where ticks concentrate, and tick treatments.”

Concerns regarding ticks on humans or domestic animals should be addressed through consultation with a physician or veterinarian.

The recent identification of the longhorned tick in multiple states throughout the eastern United States suggests that it is likely established. Many questions remain about the ecology of this tick and the impacts it will have on the health of humans and animals.

The Game Commission will continue to conduct active surveillance for the longhorned tick on wildlife in collaboration with multiple state and federal agencies and academic institutions.

Additional information on the longhorned tick can be found on fact sheets provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Penn State. Longhorned tick questions concerning wildlife should be directed to the Game Commission; humans, Pennsylvania Department of Health; and domestic/agricultural animals, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

This, of course, has to be taken very seriously. Go to the Game Commission’s website and they will have a photo of the longhorned tick. Learn to identify it and look for it as well as other ticks after every outdoor excursion.

As I have often noted, Mother Nature is a pretty feisty lady. In addition to the wettest weather in years for the summer she now throws this latest pest at us. In other words, pay attention!