Potential new way to combat chronic wasting disease

Potential new ways to combat chronic wasting disease

The Freedom Township fire hall was packed Saturday with local hunters, all with one common goal: to find a way to end chronic wasting disease.

"CWD is very much an issue. Not only here in south central Pennsylvania, but across the state, it's expanded. They found cases in Jefferson County, Elk County and Clearfield County, as well," said Rodney Swope, the vice president of Sportsmen for the Future.

Sportsmen for the Future and the Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania discussed new ways to end chronic wasting disease at the fire hall.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission plans to bring federal sharpshooters to Clearfield and Jefferson counties to target potentiality hundreds of deer in areas where CWD was recently found.

"We don't believe the Game Commission -- one, their deer density numbers, and two, how they're going about trying to take deer out of these areas ... Taking out healthy deer herds does not combat the fact that it's still in the soil. The disease is still here. It's not going away," said Swope.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease is always fatal and there are no treatments or vaccines.

But biologist John Eveland and professor Frank Bastian have been working together to develop a vaccine and a diagnostic test kit for hunters to use in the field.

Eveland was at Saturday's meeting to talk more about the project.

"We're all, as sportsmen, really hopeful that that is a real case, that (it) is going to be available. At this time, we can only go by what we're told," said Swope.

The scientists need $300,000 over the next three years for the vaccine project. The Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania signed an agreement stating that they would help raise the money.

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