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Contact: Zach Bolitho, (717) 334-1124, x. 4408
The National Park Service at Gettysburg National Military Park (NMP) and Eisenhower National Historic Site (NHS) are evaluating impacts to the parks' deer management program in response to a recent finding of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a deer near Gettysburg, Pa.
A portion of the park is within the Disease Management Area defined by the Pa. Game Commission. Proximity of the case to the park activates National Park Service policy to increase disease surveillance and limit the likelihood of disease spread. The park has consulted with the Pennsylvania Game Commission and biologists and public health experts in NPS regional and national offices to develop an interim response plan. As a result, the park will:
Continue culling to meet management objectives, but no deer meat from the GNMP/EISE program will be provided for human consumption until further review.
All deer taken through the park's program will be tested for CWD by the Pa. Game Commission. Afterwards the deer will be destroyed.
Additionally, biologists will monitor the deer herd to detect sick or dead deer to help determine if it is present in GNMP/EISE.
Results from disease surveillance will determine when or if food donations will be resumed to local food banks.
On October 12, 2012, in response to the finding of CWD in a deer near the park, the National Park Service (NPS) made immediate changes to protect from the spread of CWD in Adams County. The park had lethally removed 41 deer from Gettysburg NMP and Eisenhower NHS through shooting in the prior week. Deer had been processed and were being held at a local butcher, but none of the meat was made available for human consumption. Because samples were not collected for CWD testing prior to processing, meat will be discarded following protocols suggested by the NPS and Pa. Game Commission.
The park will continue to work with the state and NPS experts to learn how best to respond to the new findings, and develop a CWD action plan.
It is important to note that no CWD has been found in wild deer populations in Pennsylvania or at Gettysburg NMP and Eisenhower NHS. While there is no current evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans, this question is an ongoing area of research and the NPS will take a cautious and careful approach to donation of meat until surveillance testing results indicate a high level of confidence that CWD does not exist in the local deer population.
Since 1995, Gettysburg and Eisenhower national parks have been reducing the number of deer in the parks directly by shooting. In previous years, all venison was donated to area food banks. Hunting is not permitted inside the two parks--only qualified federal employees have taken part in the effort to reduce the herd.
Since 2004 the park has test 71 deer for CWD culled from the park's deer management program. All results were negative for the presence of CWD. In addition to testing individual deer for CWD park biologists semi-annually conduct population estimates which include a surveillance component for detecting abnormal behavior in deer within the parks study area.
Managing deer in the two parks will also meet objectives for managing chronic wasting disease.
The park conducts monitoring of the deer population and long term forest monitoring to help assess the program and set deer management goals.