Last updated: January 06. 2014 8:00PM - 1560 Views
By - tvenesky@timesleader.com

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Another CWD case in Pennsylvania

A white-tailed deer that was killed by a vehicle in Bedford County this fall has tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD).

The deer, a 1 ½–year-old buck, was struck on Interstate 99 in November and sent for testing as part of Pennsylvania’s ongoing effort to monitor the prevalence and spread of CWD, which is fatal to members of the deer family, but is not known to be transmitted to humans.

Test results confirming the buck was CWD positive were returned Dec. 24.

“It’s not as if we hope to find CWD positives as we continue our ongoing surveillance,” Game Commission executive director Carl G. Roe said. “But the fact is that each test result that comes back – positive or negative – gives us a clearer picture of how prevalent the disease is, and monitoring for CWD is an important part of our efforts to manage its spread.”

This positive test is unlikely to have much impact on hunters, but it serves as a reminder that CWD has been found in southcentral Pennsylvania. The Game Commission already has established perimeters around the sites where CWD was detected previously, and within the boundaries of these Disease Management Areas (DMAs), special rules apply to hunters and residents.

There are two DMAs in Pennsylvania, which are intended in part to contain and slow the spread of CWD. The buck that tested positive Dec. 24 was killed within what is known as DMA 2, a 900-square-mile area that includes parts of Bedford, Blair, Cambria and Huntingdon counties. More precisely, the site where the buck was killed is between two sites where CWD was detected last year, so this new positive shouldn’t change the shape or size of the DMA.

This is the first case of CWD detected in Pennsylvania this year, but not all of the samples collected this year have been tested. The Game Commission targeted collecting and testing 1,000 samples within each DMA, as well as 3,000 samples from additional deer statewide.

CWD was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2012 at a captive facility in Adams County. Subsequently, three free-ranging deer harvested by hunters during the 2012 season – two deer in Blair County and one in Bedford County – tested positive for CWD.

PGC seedling sale begins Jan. 6

While it might be winter, landowners can begin making plans to help wildlife this spring – and beyond – by planting tree and shrub seedlings offered by the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Howard Nursery.

The 2014 seedling order form is available online, and sales are set to begin Jan. 6.

Most seedlings are sold in units of 25, but 100-seedling bundles also are available in mixes to benefit deer, game birds and songbirds, as well as to improve riparian and winter-thermal habitats.

The order form contains a wide selection of evergreens, shrubs and fruit- and nut-bearing trees. Most species are native to Pennsylvania, and with the exception of black locust, all of the available hardwoods are grown from seed collected from Pennsylvania sources and processed by Game Commission personnel.

Two offerings have been added to the order form this year. Black-gum/Black Tupelo is a slow-growing tree that provides food for birds and wildlife and, as it grows, often provides nesting cavities. A unit of 25 1-year-old seedlings is available for $12.50.

Also available this year is a mixed-oak collection, which may contain some or all of northern red oak, white oak, chestnut oak, pin oak and black oak seedlings. A unit of 25 seedlings is available for $8.75, but – like many of the seedlings offered for sale – can be purchased at a discounted price.

Annetta Ayers, superintendent at Howard Nursery, said there is a very limited supply of some of the seedlings for sale. Those who are interested might want to call Howard Nursery at 814-355-4434. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Orders can be placed by telephone, as well.

The order form and information about the seedlings for sale are available at the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.state.pa.us. Place your cursor over “General Store” in the menu bar at the top of the homepage, then scroll down to “Howard Nursery” and select “2014 Seedling Order Form” from the drop-down menu.

Buffer program in PA helps Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), its partners, and 41 farmers in northern Pennsylvania celebrate a significant clean water achievement — 36 miles of forest buffers have been planted along streams in Bradford, Susquehanna, Sullivan, Wyoming and Lycoming counties. These buffers will improve local and downstream water quality, improve farm viability, provide habitat for fish and other wildlife, and count toward Pennsylvania’s Clean Water Blueprint requirements.

The four-year project was funded by a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant, PA DEP Growing Greener, and by CBF’s Buffer Bonus program, and yielded impressive results. In addition to the 36 newly established streamside forested buffers (a total of 430 acres), farmers also installed 219 different on-farm conservation practices for a healthier environment. State-compliant soil conservation and manure management plans were developed for each of the farms, with 28 also receiving Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans.

“These improvements all have positive effects on local water quality, while at the same time help to improve the overall productivity of the farm, said Stephanie Eisenbise, CBF’s Pennsylvania Watershed Manager.

“Streams in this northern region of the state are very important because they are the headwaters to the Susquehanna River. So this work not only helps improve water quality here at home, but also nearly 400 miles away in the Chesapeake Bay.”

Practices supported through the Buffer Bonus program include: Planting streamside forested buffers; livestock stream fencing and crossings; constructing manure storage facilities; controlling run-off from barnyards, pastures and rooftops; constructing containment facilities for milkhouse wastes; improving barnyard areas and livestock lanes; and many others.

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