- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 27, 2005

According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the results from testing 550 deer in a surveillance area that included parts of Shenandoah, Frederick, and Clark counties show no presence of the dreaded Chronic Wasting Disease. The samples were checked at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

Virginia quickly responded in September when the disease was discovered in a deer in Hampshire County, W.Va., approximately 10 miles from the Virginia line. The game department established a surveillance area and with assistance from the state’s department of transportation and local hunters, staff collected samples from road-killed and hunter-killed deer.

“This is clearly good news,” VDGIF wildlife director Bob Duncan said of the test results. “We could not have achieved this without the hard work of the field biologists and the cooperation and support of our partners.”

State wildlife veterinarian Jonathan Sleeman added, “While we can never say that Virginia is entirely free of the disease without testing every deer, this sample size gives us a very high confidence that if CWD is present in the surveillance area, then it is at very low levels.”

Virginia will continue the CWD surveillance into 2006 and also will meet with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to discuss results in both states and to coordinate efforts.

CWD is a progressive neurological disease found in deer and elk that ultimately results in death. Species known to be susceptible include elk, mule deer, whitetailed deer, blacktailed deer and moose.

Hunters and members of the general public are asked to keep a lookout for any deer showing symptoms consistent with the disease. Those symptoms include poor body condition, abnormal behavior, tremors, stumbling, lack of coordination, drooping ears, lowered head, drooling and excessive thirst and urination. Anyone who sees such a deer should not attempt to disturb or kill the animal. Instead, note the location and immediately contact the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries at 804/367-1258.

Maryland satisfied with deer count — Maryland hunters took 44,941 deer during the two-week firearm season, according to the Department of Natural Resources. That included 16,123 antlered deer (388 of them sikas) and 28,818 antlerless deer (488 sikas).

The total represents a slight increase over last year’s deer hunt, when 44,904 deer were killed. Game biologists say the overall kill numbers suggest the deer population has stabilized in some parts of the state, while the drop in the antlered bucks shot is evidence that the deer population is beginning to decline in other locations.

Minor differences in harvest estimates also may be attributed to the change in deer checking methods that went from physical check stations to telephone and Internet reporting. Because of that, the totals will remain preliminary until data can be more fully analyzed.

“We’ve been encouraging hunters to take antlerless deer in an effort to balance the deer population with its environment and human neighbors,” DNR Deer Project leader Doug Hotton said. “We are beginning to see the positive results of that strategy.”

Incidentally, I agree completely with Wildlife and Heritage service director Paul A. Peditto, who said: “The new check-in system is an unqualified success. Hunters [quickly] adopted the new procedures and are demonstrating their honesty and dedication to the sport by reporting their harvest.”

I don’t know how honest some of the reporting was, but the phone and Internet system worked flawlessly for our group of deer hunters.

Pennsylvania wants more hunters — A Pennsylvania bill has become the first Families Afield legislation in the country to reach a governor’s desk.

HB 1690 has been sent to Gov. Ed Rendell. The state’s House of Representatives voted 195-1 to accept a Senate amendment that authorizes the Pennsylvania Game Commission to create a mentored youth hunting program. The Pennsylvania Senate unanimously passed HB 1690 on Dec. 13.

The bill is part of the Families Afield campaign established by a partnership of sportsmen’s organizations to aid in the recruitment of new hunters. The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, along with the National Wild Turkey Federation and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, introduced Families Afield in an effort to increase hunter recruitment throughout the country.


Trout Unlimited chapter meets — Jan. 5, 7:30 p.m., at McLean VFW Post 8241, 1051 Spring Hill Road. At the Northern Virginia Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Dusty Wissmath of the Whitetail Fly Fishing School will present a program on fishing the Ruby River in Southwestern Montana. The program is preceded by a fly tying session at 6:45. Information: www.nvatu.org.

m Fishing Expo & Boat Show — Jan. 12-15, at Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. Fishing pros, seminars, latest tackle and electronic equipment, bass boats and general recreational boats for fresh- and saltwater. Information: www.fishingexpo.com or 410/838-8687.

m Nautical & wildlife art festival — Jan. 14-15, the Nautical and Wildlife Art Festival/North American Craft Show at the Ocean City (Md.) Convention Center. Information: www.ococean.com or call Don Hastings, 410/524-9155.

Fishing show in Upper Marlboro — Jan 21-22, the Chesapeake Fishing and Outdoor Expo Show at Show Place Arena, Upper Marlboro. Information: www.chesapeakefishingoutdoorexpo.com or call Susan Kelley or George Klein, 301/855-8047.

Baltimore Boat Show — Jan 21-29, at Baltimore Convention Center. Every kind of boat for inshore and offshore fishing, cruising, sailing will be on display, plus the latest gear and electronics. Information: www.baltimoreboatshow.com or call Michael Duffy of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, 212-984-7000.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]



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