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PGC wants to answer your deer questions

HARRISBURG — There’s nothing wrong with having questions. But having answers is even better. Hunters pursuing deer across Pennsylvania — and particularly where Chronic Wasting Disease exists — can access those this fall.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is offering a CWD hotline where hunters with questions about where CWD is, what special rules apply in those places, how to handle deer they harvest in Disease Management Areas and more can quickly and easily get information. It’s 1-833-463-6293.

Those who prefer to reach the Game Commission via email can get their answers at infocwd@pa.gov.

“We understand that the presence of CWD in portions of our state presents challenges for deer hunters,” Bryan Burhans, the Game Commission’s executive director, said. “And we want to help. We’re working hard to partner with our hunters to combat this disease, and part of that involves making sure we give them as much information as possible in ways that are convenient for them to access. The hotline and email are two of those tools.”

That help extends to after a hunter harvests a deer.

Hunters who harvest a deer within a DMA can drop its head in one of many collection bins. The Game Commission will test it for CWD free of charge.

And again this year, the Game Commission is making it easy for hunters to check on those results.

In addition to the hotline and email, there’s a free Pennsylvania Game Commission app and a webpage where hunters can find out if any deer they harvested tested positive for CWD.

With the app, clicking on “Resources,” then “Chronic Wasting Disease” and finally the “Check Your CWD Test Results” link takes hunters to a log-in page. From there, all that’s required to get results is entering their unique CID hunting license number and birthday.

Those without the app can access the same information from the Game Commission’s CWD look-up site online.

Hunters who visit either the app or page also can keep tabs on what’s going on with CWD statewide. A chart shows the total number of deer tested for CWD in each DMA. It also breaks down how many of those deer were detected with CWD, how many weren’t, how many tests proved inconclusive and how many tests are still pending.

That chart is updated regularly. So, too, are others outlining the number of deer tested for CWD overall and the number that tested positive by year since 2002.

And there’s more there. Hunters can use the app and page to access the Game Commission’s interactive map. It shows the location of high-risk parts dumpsters, cooperating deer processors and taxidermists and head-collection bins.

It’s to everyone’s benefit if hunters take advantage of all that information.

Hunters play a large role in CWD testing annually. The Game Commission examined nearly 15,000 whitetails for CWD during the 2019-20 hunting seasons, for example. Hunters dropping heads in collection bins accounted for more than half of those.

Andrea Korman, the Game Commission’s CWD biologist, thanked hunters for that cooperation. She’s hoping they’ll supply as many samples, if not more, again this year, especially from any of the eight CWD deer management assistance program units available this year. The location of these DMAP units can be found on the commission’s interactive map at pagame.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer.

Details on how many permits remain available per DMAP unit can be found online.

Deer hunters are encouraged to stay in the loop again this fall and winter. After all, Korman said, two-way communication between hunters and the Game Commission over the long haul is critical to keeping tabs on and managing CWD.

Hunters who harvest a deer within a Disease Management Area can get it tested for CWD for free by dropping its head in a collection bin.

But what about hunters who harvest deer outside of a DMA? Can they get their deer tested, too?

The answer is yes.

Hunters who harvest a deer beyond the boundaries of a DMA can deposit it in one of the many collection bins located inside DMA boundaries. The Game Commission will test it free of charge and make results of those tests available.

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