The antlerless tags are for Enhanced Surveillance Units within Disease Management Areas.
Like a good detective, deer hunters follow clues each fall to cross paths with wary white-tailed deer.
This year, they can put those investigative skills to use in helping to sniff out the potential spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is offering special Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permits for eight Enhanced Surveillance Units, or ESUs. The permits, which allow hunters to take antlerless deer in the 2020-21 hunting seasons, go on sale today, July 30.
The purpose is for hunters to use the tags to harvest deer, and then submit the heads from those animals for CWD testing.
CWD testing occurs statewide annually. But as their name suggests, it’s especially critical in Enhanced Surveillance Units.
The surveillance units are small areas within larger Disease Management Areas. They surround the spot where a CWD positive wild or captive deer was found.
What makes those CWD detections noteworthy is that they are at the leading edge of disease expansion or at least 5 miles from any other past CWD detection.
What the Game Commission – with the help of hunters – intends to determine is whether those CWD positive deer were outliers, meaning the only sick one in their respective areas, or a clue to a bigger problem.
The Game Commission’s management goal is to limit CWD to no more than one percent of the adult deer in these units. By harvesting deer and submitting heads from those deer for testing, hunters can help crack the case on just where CWD exists and to what degree.
Such hunter cooperation is a cornerstone of the commission’s new CWD Response Plan.
“The Game Commission has a CWD Response Plan,” said Christopher Rosenberry, chief of the agency’s game management division. “But hunters are the real key to making it work. The samples they provide from deer they harvest, especially in Enhanced Surveillance Units, help us to identify where CWD exists on the landscape, at what prevalence, and what management actions we need to take to control it.”
The Game Commission will place deer-head collection bins in each unit. It will test all deer heads gathered with a valid harvest tag – at no cost to the hunter – and report back to those hunters with news of whether their deer tested positive for CWD or not. Locations of the deer-head collection bins can be found here: https://www.pgc.pa.gov/Wildlife/Wildlife-RelatedDiseases/Pages/ChronicWastingDisease.aspx.
The Game Commission is aiming to collect at least 250 to 300 deer heads from each unit.
The eight DMAP areas associated with Enhanced Surveillance Units are:
? DMAP Unit 3468 in Bern, Brecknock, Cumru, Heidelberg, Jefferson, Lower Heidelberg, Marion, North Heidelberg, Penn, South Heidelberg and Spring townships in Berks County; Brecknock, Clay, Earl, East Cocalico, East Earl, Elizabeth, Ephrata, Upper Leacock, Warwick, West Cocalico and West Earl townships in Lancaster County; and Heidelberg, Jackson, Millcreek, North Lebanon and South Lebanon townships in Lebanon County. It encompasses 346 square miles and has 4,430 permits available.
? DMAP Unit 3934 in Bloom, Boggs, Bradford, Brady, Decatur, Ferguson, Knox, Lawrence, Penn, Pike, Pine, Union and Woodward townships in Clearfield County. It encompasses 172 square miles and has 2,201 permits available.
? DMAP Unit 4311 in Barr, Blacklick, Cambria, East Carroll and West Carroll townships in Cambria County. It encompasses 35 square miles and has 437 permits available.
? DMAP Unit 4312 in Canoe and North Mahoning townships in Indiana County; and Bell, Perry, and Young townships in Jefferson County. It encompasses 36 square miles and has 463 permits available.
? DMAP Unit 4313 in Fairfield and St. Clair townships in Westmoreland County; and West Wheatfield Township in Indiana County. It encompasses 27 square miles and has 347 permits available.
? DMAP Unit 4314 in Greene, Guilford, Quincy and Washington townships in Franklin County; and Franklin and Hamiltonban townships in Adams County. It encompasses 99 square miles and has 1,270 permits available.
? DMAP Unit 4315 in Adams, Beaver, Center Franklin, Perry, Spring, Washington, West Beaver and West Perry townships in Snyder County; Fayette, Fermanagh and Monroe townships in Juniata County; and Decatur Township in Mifflin County. It encompasses 158 square miles and has 2,025 permits available.
? DMAP Unit 4316 in Antis, Tyrone and Snyder townships in Blair County; Reade Township in Cambria County; Rush and Taylor townships in Centre County; Gulich Township in Clearfield County; and Franklin, Spruce Creek and Warriors Mark townships in Huntingdon County. It encompasses 138 square miles and has 1,761 permits available.
Maps showing the specific boundaries of each Enhanced Surveillance Unit can be found here: https://pagame.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id?084308c67d524d14ad90dcb2232b0c01 and here https://www.pgc.pa.gov/Wildlife/Wildlife-RelatedDiseases/Pages/ChronicWastingDisease.aspx.
DMAP tags for the Enhanced Surveillance Units can be purchased at any license issuing agent. Hunters just need to identify the unit they want to hunt by number.
With hunting seasons fast approaching, many hunters are already doing preseason scouting, running trail cameras and more to investigate the deer where they plan to hunt.
Commission executive director Bryan Burhans hopes they’ll take advantage of the additional hunting opportunities provided by Enhanced Surveillance Unit DMAP tags. That will help uncover information about where CWD is and hopefully isn’t.
“We know Pennsylvania deer hunters are passionate,” Burhans said. “They love to be in the woods.
“These additional tags give them even more opportunity to enjoy that pursuit and, just as importantly, be our first line of defense in managing Chronic Wasting Disease. We’re all in this together. Getting the needed samples is critical. The additional DMAP tags are one tool to help us to obtain these samples. But we need samples from all deer harvested in the Enhanced Surveillance Unit. Extending the hunting season is another possible action the agency may take if not enough samples are obtained. Our hunters are the first line of defense and we need their help.”
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