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N.Y. Releases Final Plan to Reduce CWG in Deer and Moose Herds
New York Ag Connection - 05/17/2018

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos and New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner (Ag & Markets) Richard Ball Wednesday announced that the state has finalized the New York State Interagency Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Risk Minimization Plan. The plan proposes regulatory changes and new actions to minimize the risk of CWD entering or spreading in New York State.

The plan is designed to protect both wild white-tailed deer and moose herds in New York, as well as captive cervids including deer and elk held at enclosed facilities.

"New York is leading the nation in protecting our valuable deer and moose populations and ensuring our hunting and outdoor recreation economy continues to thrive," said DEC Commissioner Seggos. "This important plan streamlines operations and proposes strong actions to prevent the introduction of CWD, and is the result of a strong partnership effort of sporting groups, deer farmers, and other stakeholders. I commend the DEC and Ag and Markets staff and all our partners for their assistance in developing this action plan and look forward to working with them to implement these important strategies."

Ag & Markets Commissioner Ball said, "Working with DEC, Ag & Markets is proud to have assisted with the development of critical disease prevention measures for our deer and moose populations. Our dedicated veterinarians and veterinary technicians play integral roles in controlling and preventing CWD in deer herds across the State through diligent surveillance and testing, as do our deer farmers who understand the importance of complying with these regulations in order to protect our wildlife and their own herds."

DEC biologists worked with Ag & Markets veterinarians and wildlife health experts at the Animal Health Diagnostic Center (AHDC) at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University to craft a comprehensive set of disease prevention measures that are among the most advanced CWD prevention strategies in the nation. The plan updates reporting requirements, improves communication to stakeholders, and simplifies regulations to reduce confusion while protecting New York's valuable natural resources.

In addition to conducting joint inspections of cervid farms and increased record sharing among agencies, the plan will prohibit the importation of certain parts from any CWD-susceptible cervid taken outside of New York and includes specific restrictions on what will be allowed into the state.

The plan also calls for increased public participation in the state's efforts, and DEC and Ag & Markets are urging hunters and citizens to:

- Report sick or abnormally behaving deer;

- Do not feed wild deer;

- Dispose of carcasses properly at approved landfills;

- Report violators;

- Use alternatives to urine-based lures or use synthetic forms of deer urine.

New York State ranks 6th in the nation in white-tailed deer hunting with more than 575,000 hunters harvesting an average of 210,000 deer each year. New York's white tailed deer population estimates range from 900,000 to 1 million. Wild white-tailed deer hunting represents a $1.5 billion industry in the state.

Chronic wasting disease, a fatal brain disease found in certain species of the deer family, was discovered in Oneida County wild and captive white-tailed deer in 2005. More than 49,000 deer have been tested statewide since 2002, and there have been no reoccurrences of the disease since 2005. New York is still the only state to have eliminated CWD once it was found in wild populations. Other states have not been as fortunate. In North America, CWD has been found in 24 states and three Canadian provinces, including neighboring Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Bryan J. Burhans, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Game Commission, said, "CWD is an ecological disaster unfolding before our eye. There is no doubt that CWD threatens to future of wildlife conservation in Pennsylvania. We applaud the New York DEC and Ag & markets for their proactive efforts to develop a CWD risk minimization plan to reduce the opportunity for this dreaded disease to become established in NY. We are all in this fight together."

Senator Tom O'Mara, chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, said, "These are critical actions to help protect New York State's deer and moose populations. I applaud the state for working in partnership with Cornell University's Animal Health Diagnostic Center and with fundamental input from sporting organizations and other stakeholders to develop a comprehensive response."

Assemblyman Clifford W. Crouch, said, "I applaud DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos and Ag & Markets Commissioner Richard Ball for their continued efforts to prevent the spread of CWD in New York. To date, we are the only state to have stopped the spread of CWD after discovering it in wild populations. This is largely because of the dedication and hard work of the various biologists, veterinarians and wildlife experts who have worked tirelessly in the field to study and implement strategies to prevent further spread of the disease. I would like to thank all the stakeholders involved in combating CWD, your hard work is crucial to protecting the health of New York's wild and captive deer and moose herds."

François Elvinger, executive director of the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, said, "We applaud the DEC and Ag & Markets on their CWD Risk Minimization Plan. As a collaborator on this plan, our wildlife health experts provided key scientific insight into the best practices for disease prevention. The AHDC has been a key partner for both agencies over the years, through our work as the New York Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and with the New York State Wildlife Health Program. For disease surveillance in 2017, we have already tested more than 2,000 wild and captive deer and elk, with 1,000 more to go. Chronic wasting disease can be devastating to wild populations and captive animal owners, so we want to make sure we do everything possible to keep it out of the Empire State."

Jason Kemper, chairman of the NYS Conservation Fund Advisory Board, said, "The adoption of the CWD Risk Minimization Plan is an important moment in the protection of our deer herds now and into the future. CFAB applauds DEC and Ag & Markets efforts to reduce the likelihood of this devastating disease entering New York and implementation of measures to minimize its spread if detected. This new plan is a much needed blueprint to guide agency actions in preventing the impacts that CWD would have on our deer herd, our hunters, and everyone who cares about this magnificent resource in New York."

Chuck Parker, president of the New York State Conservation Council, said, "The New York State Conservation Council appreciates the proactive approach that DEC and Ag & Markets have taken to date that helped in preventing the spread of CWD into New York. Moving forward, today's release of the CWD Risk Minimization Management Plan will give our state a set of sound and flexible deer management/CWD prevention guidelines that will best serve to protect our deer population. White-tailed deer are highly valued by all residents and our most popular game species. Preventing CWD from becoming established ensures a healthy herd into the future."

Chronic wasting disease was first identified in Colorado in 1967, and is caused by infectious prions (misfolded proteins) that cannot be broken down by the body's normal processes. These prions cause holes to form in the brain. Prions are found in deer parts and products, including urine and feces and can remain infectious in soil for years and even be taken up into plant tissues.

Chronic wasting disease is in the same family of diseases (transmissible spongiform encephalopathies) as "mad cow" disease in cattle. To date, there have been no known cases of CWD in humans or in domestic farm animals, however, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that no one knowingly eat CWD-positive venison.

The final plan is available on the DEC website (http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7191.html).

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