Allegheny National Forest Implements Actions to Address Chronic Wasting Disease

54

WARREN, Pa. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service has signed an order to temporarily restrict wildlife feeding on the Allegheny National Forest in northwestern Pennsylvania.

The restriction will be in place for one year and only applies to activities on National Forest System lands.

The order prohibits feeding wildlife or laying or placing any food, fruit, hay, grain, chemical, salt, or other minerals on the Allegheny National Forest. Exceptions would be made for:

Persons placing a bird feeder in a developed campground unless such bird feeder has been identified as being visited by other wildlife species.

Persons or groups with a permit specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited act or omission.

Any Federal, State, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or fire fighting force in the performance of an official duty.

On May 26, 2021, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture confirmed that a captive white-tailed deer on a Warren County hunting preserve tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). CWD is a highly contagious neurological disease that affects members of the deer, or cervid, family and is always fatal to the animals it infects. It develops very slowly in the lymph nodes, spinal tissue, and brains of deer and elk. To date there is no evidence that it can be spread to humans.

The feeding of deer can amplify the transmission of diseases like CWD and result in long-term habitat destruction, increased vehicle collisions, habituation to humans, alteration of normal behavioral patterns, and pose risks to other wildlife.

To help slow or stop the spread of CWD, the Allegheny National Forest is implementing a one-year restriction on wildlife feeding activities on National Forest System land. If needed, similar short or long-term restrictions may be considered in the future.

Prior to signing this closure order, this proposal was discussed with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, which provided a letter of support. In addition, information regarding this proposal was posted on the Allegheny National Forest website, and a news release was distributed and forwarded to potentially interested individuals, organizations, and agencies. Forest staff focused outreach efforts on reaching local and regional hunting and sporting organizations. In total, forest staff reached out to several hundred potentially interested individuals, organizations, and agencies for comment on the proposal. Eleven responses were received, ten of which expressed support. Several supportive commenters asked questions or provided suggestions, and one commenter expressed concern or criticism. All of these comments were considered in the decision to proceed with a temporary closure of wildlife feeding on the Allegheny National Forest.

To view the supporting documents for this decision, please visit the ANF website at: Forest Service (usda.gov). To view the closure order please visit Allegheny National Forest – Alerts & Notices (usda.gov).

For more information, please contact Public Affairs Officer Christopher Leeser at 814-728-6281, or 4 Farm Colony Drive, Warren, PA 16365.