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The National Park Service (NPS) is developing a plan and environmental impact statement to manage the threat of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) to park populations of white-tailed deer. The purpose of the plan is to reduce the likelihood of the CWD establishment and decrease the disease's progression within Shenandoah National Park. Although CWD has not been detected in Shenandoah National Park it has been detected in Frederick County, Virginia, approximately 25 miles from the Northern portions of the park. CWD is an invasive non-native disease which threatens deer populations, related natural resources, and visitor experiences at Shenandoah National Park.
CWD is in the family of diseases known as the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) or prion diseases. It is a self-propagating neurological disease that affects deer and related species, causing brain lesions that result in progressive weight loss, behavioral changes, and eventually death. There is currently no evidence that the disease is transmissible to humans or domestic livestock.
This is not the first park planning effort to address CWD. From 2007-2012 the NPS developed a CWD Detection and Assessment Plan and Environmental Assessment to gain scientific data about where and when the disease may invade Shenandoah National Park. Current efforts focus on planning how to manage the disease itself.
Scoping is the first step to involve the public in the planning process. Park staff will host three scoping meetings in March. Scoping meetings provide opportunities for the public to understand and comment on important management issues, so that concerns are identified early and the analysis focuses on key topics. Each meeting will begin with a presentation by park staff, followed by an open house, including a series of stations and posters for the public to view and read more about the planning process and chronic wasting disease. The public will be provided the opportunity to ask questions and submit a comment.
Public meetings will be held in various locations around the park. The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at Ivy Creek Foundation, 1780 Earlysville Road, Charlottesville, VA. The second meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, at the James Madison University, nTelos Room (#259) in the College of Integrated Science and Technology Building, Harrisonburg, VA. The third meeting will be on Thursday, March 14, 2013 at Washington Fire Hall, 10 Firehouse Lane, Washington, VA. All meetings will begin at 7:00 pm and end at 9:00 pm.
For those unable to attend a public meeting but wishing to learn more about the important management issues and to submit a comment can go to http://parkplanning.nps.gov/shen. Comments will be most beneficial if received by April 30, 2013.