The Pennsylvania Game Commission is hosting an open house to inform the public about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), which poses a serious threat to the state’s white-tailed deer and elk.

The event is set for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 29, at Russell Volunteer Fire Co., 111 Perrigo Lane, Russell, PA 16345.

CWD, which is always fatal to the deer and elk it infects, was first detected in Pennsylvania in captive deer in 2012 and in wild, free-ranging whitetails a few months later. Since then, CWD has been detected in 730 whitetails. No Pennsylvania elk have ever tested positive for the disease.

To limit the spread of CWD, the Game Commission has enacted special regulations in several spots around Pennsylvania. These areas are known as Disease Management Areas (DMAs) and the Established Area (EA).

There are four DMAs across the state. The newest, DMA 5, was created in 2021 in response to a CWD-positive deer found on a captive facility. It covers 212 square miles completely within Warren County.

The EA is a smaller portion of DMA 2. It accounts for roughly 90 percent of all CWD cases detected in Pennsylvania to date.

The goal of the special rules within the DMAs and the EA, which include bans on feeding deer, using or possessing cervid urine-based attractants, and moving high-risk deer parts, is to limit the spread of the disease.

Hunters are also prohibited from bringing high-risk parts, brains, spinal columns, backbones, lymph nodes and more, back into Pennsylvania from any other state or Canadian province.

Those who want to learn more about CWD, how it is spread, the regulations within DMAs and the EA, what they must do if they harvest and/or plan to have mounted a whitetail in a DMA or the EA, who harvest a deer, elk or moose outside Pennsylvania, and what they can do to help fight CWD are encouraged to attend the Sept. 29 event.

Visitors to the open house will be able to check out various educational stations at their own pace. Game Commission staff will be on hand at each to offer information and answer questions.

A map showing the exact location and boundaries for each DMA and the EA is available on the Game Commission website, Click “Chronic Wasting Disease” under “Quick Clicks.” That link also provides lots of other CWD information.

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