The Pennsylvania Game Commission's plan to sample harvested deer for chronic wasting disease during the two-week firearms season got off to a smooth start Monday.
Hunters and PGC officials alike say they were pleased with operations at the commission's CWD check station near East Berlin during the opening day of the season.
By noon, about 100 hunters had brought their deer to the check station there for sampling or processing, commission officials said. They expected roughly another 100 before closing the check station late in the evening.
We're thrilled with the level of compliance from our hunters. They've been very cooperative, very friendly, said Joe Neville of the PGC.
Neville said officials did not know what to expect since this is the first firearms deer season since CWD turned up in Pennsylvania last month. Two pen-raised deer at a farm north of New Oxford tested positive for CWD and two deer connected to that farm have escaped to the wild.
The sampling is part of a larger plan by the Game Commission to monitor whether CWD, which is fatal to deer, is present in the wild.
The Game Commission established new restrictions for hunting within a 600-square-mile disease management area surrounding that farm that includes portions of York and Adams counties.
As part of those restrictions, all deer harvested within the DMA must be taken to either the Game Commission's check station or one of 14 participating processors and taxidermists within the area. Hunters within the zone are prohibited from taking certain high-risk deer parts, such as brain, eyes, lymph nodes and the spinal cord, outside the DMA.
Hunters at the Lake Meade Road check station Monday had the option of having officials remove lymph nodes and a piece of the brain stem of their deer for testing, about a five- to 10-minute process, or sampled, processed and caped out for mounting at the commission's expense.
I'm impressed. I think they're doing a very good job, said Wayne Hammonds, whose grandson Adrian White, 13, killed a seven-point buck near Hellam.
Hammonds and White were waiting for a taxidermist to cape out their deer for future mounting.
The fact that the Game Commission is taking care of this, it saves people a lot of money, Hammonds said. Most of the time I take it and get it processed, so I would have had to pay for this.
Martin Stewart of Lewisbury said having the Game Commission process the 11-point buck he shot saved him time and money.
This would have taken me all day. It took them half an hour, he said.