- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 6, 2005

All the states surrounding West Virginia have been notified that its Division of Natural Resources has confirmed the first known case of a debilitating deer illness known as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). It is the southernmost confirmed case in the eastern U.S. The infected whitetailed deer was found in Hampshire County, which is especially worrisome to Virginia game officials because it occurred only 10 miles from Virginia’s Frederick County.

The 21/2-year-old road-killed buck’s disease also will set off alarm bells in Pennsylvania and Maryland because the sickness is extremely contagious to other deer. Deer can be first-rate travelers if they have to be, so the importance of the discovery cannot be overstated. The deer’s location was only 25 miles south of Bedford County, Pa., and adjacent Allegany County, Md.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) says its biologists and staff wildlife veterinarian Jonathan Sleeman had previously identified this region as high risk for CWD because of the presence of captive deer facilities in neighboring states, including some in West Virginia. The VDGIF will implement enhanced CWD testing in that region this fall.

The department is activating its Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan, revised only two months ago. It has had a comprehensive CWD surveillance strategy in place since 2002. Any confirmed case of CWD within 50 miles of Virginia activates this plan.

For more information about CWD, visit the department’s Web site at www.dgif.virginia.gov. To see West Virginia’s announcement concerning the discovery, go to www.wvdnr.gov.

Waterfowl stamp started by Virginia — The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries reminds waterfowl hunters that they must purchase a Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp this year. The stamp, established by the 2005 Virginia General Assembly, became effective July 1 and is required of all persons (unless license exempt) 16 years of age and older to hunt or to take any migratory waterfowl within the commonwealth.

The annual stamp, not to be confused with the mandatory Federal Migratory Bird Stamp, costs $9.75 for residents and non-residents alike. It will be sold by hunting license agents or through the VDGIF Web site, www.dgif.virginia.gov.

Every person who is issued the stamp (or has a Web site receipt for one) must carry it when hunting or taking any migratory waterfowl. The actual stamp does not have to be affixed to the license but must be signed by the licensee.

Revenue from the stamp will be placed in a special account and used to cover administrative costs; fund cooperative waterfowl habitat improvement projects with nonprofit organizations; and protect, preserve, restore, enhance and develop waterfowl habitat in Virginia.

Feds report on fish stocks — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released its annual Report to Congress on the “Status of U.S. Fisheries for 2004.”

For previously assessed stocks, the report shows the following changes: one stock has been fully rebuilt; six are no longer overfished; three stocks are no longer subject to overfishing; five stocks are now subject to overfishing; and three stocks are now overfished. In 2004, overfished and/or overfishing determinations were made for 20 stocks and stock complexes whose status was previously unknown.

“This year’s report shows progress for some stocks but also signals [that] we have our work cut out for us,” said Bill Hogarth, director of the NOAA Fisheries Service. “We’re taking action to address issues raised in this year’s report.”

Hogarth has asked the Regional Fishery Management Councils to develop measures to reduce harvest rates for the stocks with a new overfishing status and begin rebuilding those declared to be overfished. Some of the councils already have begun to take corrective action.

A fact sheet listing overfished/overfishing changes in 2004 can be accessed by going to www.nmfs.noaa.gov/mediacenter/docs/status_of_stocks_fact_ sheet.pdf.

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

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