Clearfield County, PA – Chronic Wasting Disease is starting to affect deer closer to our area. A wildlife officer shot a deer in Bell Township, Clearfield County, on June 7 after it showed signs of being sick.

It tested positive for CWD, which is a neurological disease that can spread quickly to the deer and elk populations. There are no signs that Chronic Wasting Disease could spread to humans, but it is always fatal for deer and elk.

This case of CWD is surprising because the disease has now spread to a free-ranging deer in an area of the state where the disease had previously only been found in captive deer. Other free-ranging deer have tested positive in Bedford, Blair and Cambria Counties.

The infected deer was found in the center of the 350-square-mile Disease Management Area 3 where surveillance is already being done. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture says they will increase surveillance in the area but won’t need to expand the coverage area.

Part of the increased survey of CWD in the area will include allowing more Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permits for hunters. Each hunter can purchase no more than two DMAP permits. They are sold anywhere that hunting licenses are sold. The DMAP permits can be used to take antlerless deer on public and private land within the DMA 3 location, which includes Clearfield, Jefferson and Indiana Counties.

Data from the permits will be used to gather information about Chronic Wasting Disease. All road-kill deer that wildlife officers find are also already tested for the disease.

There’s no vaccine for CWD, and the best solution that we have currently is to remove any infected deer or elk from the population to keep the disease from spreading. The Game Commission is hoping to gather more data so they can track where the disease has already spread so they can prevent it from affecting more animals.