WARREN — Until further notice, the Forest Service is asking visitors of Allegheny National Forest to not feed the animals.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service signed an order to temporarily restrict wildlife feeding for one year and only applies to activities on National Forest System lands.
The order prohibits feeding wildlife or laying or placing any food, fruit, hay, grain, chemical, salt, or other minerals on the Allegheny National Forest. Exceptions would be made for:
- Persons placing a bird feeder in a developed campground unless such bird feeder has been identified as being visited by other wildlife species.
- Persons or groups with a permit specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited act or omission.
- Any Federal, State, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or fire fighting force in the performance of an official duty.
On May 26, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture confirmed that a captive white-tailed deer on a Warren County hunting preserve tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). CWD is a highly contagious neurological disease that affects members of the deer family and is always fatal to the animals it infects. It develops very slowly in the lymph nodes, spinal tissue, and brains of deer and elk.
To date, there is no evidence that it can be spread to humans.
Feeding the deer can amplify the transmission of diseases like CWD and result in numerous risks to other wildlife, such as long-term habitat destruction, increased vehicle collisions, habituation to humans and alteration of normal behavioral patterns.
The Forest Service’s plan to is to impose this feeding restriction for only one year. However, similar short or long-term restrictions may be considered in the future, if needed.
Prior to signing this closure order, this proposal was discussed with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, which provided a letter of support, as well as an open invitation on their website for any potentially interested individuals, organizations and agencies. The comments they received were considered in the decision to proceed with this temporary restriction in Allegheny National Forest.
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