Commission offers to test deer for CWD

HARRISBURG — Those hunting deer within the state’s Disease Management Areas have the opportunity to have their deer tested free of charge for chronic wasting disease, which at the same time helps the Game Commission fight this deadly disease.

The Game Commission is installing large metal bins at 26 locations for the collection of harvested deer heads within DMA 2 and DMA 3. The bins, which are similar to those used for clothing donations, keep contents secure and will be checked and emptied every other day through the deer-hunting seasons.

All deer heads retrieved from the bins will be tested for CWD, and the hunters who submitted them will be notified of the results, likely within two weeks.

This initiative not only will benefit the hunter by identifying deer that shouldn’t be consumed, it will help the Game Commission assess and monitor progress of the disease and the effectiveness of future management actions.

“CWD is an increasing threat to Pennsylvania’s deer and elk, and our hunting tradition,” said Wayne Laroche, Game Commission Special Assistant for CWD Response.

“Still, prevalence of the disease in Pennsylvania is low,” Laroche said. “There’s still a chance to minimize the disease’s impacts on wild deer.”

Collection bins will be placed within both DMA 2 and DMA 3 by the second week in October. Until the bins are available to use, blue, head-collection barrels have been placed for temporary use at all established collection sites. The permanent bins are white in color and clearly are marked for the collection of deer heads.

The exact locations of all collection sites is available on the Chronic Wasting Disease page at

Because the collection bins are secure and will be emptied regularly, hunters can feel comfortable in leaving the tag attached to the ear — a legal requirement for all deer harvests.

Hunters who harvest antlered deer within a DMA may remove the antlers before depositing the head.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) first was detected in Pennsylvania in 2012 at a captive deer farm in Adams County. In response, the Game Commission established Disease Management Area 1 (DMA 1), a nearly 600-square-mile area in Adams and York counties, in which restrictions regarding the hunting and feeding of deer applied.

CWD was detected among free-ranging deer a few months later, in three deer harvested by hunters in Bedford and Blair counties in the 2012 firearms season. The deer were detected through the Game Commission’s ongoing CWD surveillance program. Those CWD-positive deer resulted in the creation of DMA 2, which initially encompassed nearly 900 square miles in parts of Bedford, Blair, Cambria and Huntingdon counties, but since has expanded.

In 2014, CWD was detected at a captive deer farm in Jefferson County, leading to the creation of DMA 3.