Legislators issue statement on recent discovery of chronic wasting disease in Clearfield County


The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) held a news conference Thursday to further detail its response to the recent news of a free-ranging whitetail deer in Bell Township, Clearfield County, testing positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). The buck was shot last month by a wildlife conservation officer on state game lands after it demonstrated signs of being diseased.

Bell Township is represented in the General Assembly by state Rep. Tommy Sankey (R-Clearfield/Cambria) and is adjacent to the 75th Legislative District, served by state Rep. Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield/Elk). The two legislators issued the following statement after the news conference:

"The revelation that CWD has reached beyond a deer farm to the free-ranging deer herd is certainly disturbing news. While there are no confirmed cases of the disease being transmitted to humans, CWD can definitely impact our way of life through the damage it can cause in these animals.

"Deer hunting in Pennsylvania is a $1.6 billion industry. A disease that has infiltrated the deer population and has no known cure could have a significant impact on our economy. With the Bell Township case now threatening the elk herd less than 10 miles away, you are talking about an effect on an aspect of tourism that brings between 350,000 and 400,000 people to Elk County annually.

"The PGC already invests approximately $1 million annually in CWD surveillance, and executive director Bryan Burhans thinks that number could double. We support his efforts to address CWD's potentially catastrophic impact on our region and the state.

"Residents of our districts can play a key role in this campaign. We encouraged hunters to purchase Deer Management Assistance Program permits that are now available. Non-hunters who see deer exhibiting signs of CWD should contact local PGC officials as soon as possible with the location of that animal.

"Our websites (www.repgabler.com and www.repsankey.com) each contain information on the disease, from its history to visual symptoms of an infected animal. Whether you are a hunter or not, this issue has the potential to significantly impact all of us from an economic perspective. We need to take this very seriously."