ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va -- Hunters do need to be aware of chronic wasting disease in the deer they kill. This disease is something wildlife officials have been watching for years. Wildlife biologists and veterinarians test the lymph nodes of the deer when they are registered.
This year, chronic wasting disease has been found in deer in Pennsylvania and Wildlife Center President Ed Clark said hunters need to look at this rationally. In most parts of the state it hasn't been found, so there is no reason not to hunt.
"Our state wildlife management agency is on top of it and doing an exemplary job of surveillance,” said Clark. “So, prudence is the rule of the day, and if people are hunting in the areas where it has been found, get the animal tested. If it tests negative, enjoy your meal."
Clark said the disease makes the brain of the deer look like a sponge. It affects the nervous system and can make it off balance and eventually kill it.
Chronic wasting disease is a serious potential problem for deer, but there are no documented issues in humans. It is still recommended not to eat an animal if it is sick.
For now, hunters should not bring back the backbone or skull of any deer killed in Pennsylvania and make sure all meat is processed.
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