A deer farm in Sugarloaf has been quarantined by the state Department of Agriculture as the agency determines locations that may possess deer that had contact with an Adams County farm where an animal tested positive for chronic wasting disease on Oct. 12.
The disease is fatal to cervids, such as deer and elk, but has not been found to be transmittable to humans. The disease is spread via contact between animals or through the soil where CWD prions can exist indefinitely.
The department released the updated list late Thursday and it includes 21 farms. The Sugarloaf farm is located on Prospect Road. Other farms on the list include one in Danville and another in Montoursville.
The quarantine prohibits owners from moving deer off the farm to another site.
Chris Denmon, president of the North Mountain Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association and the Conservation Coalition, said the quarantine of the Sugarloaf farm is a concern because of the threat it poses to wild deer. So far, no wild deer in the state have tested positive for CWD.
If this disease progresses it could be devastating, especially if deer escape from these farms under the quarantine Denmon said. Even without an escape, it may still be possible for wild deer to get up close to the fences and contact the deer inside.
With archery season currently underway and the state's two-week rifle deer season set to begin Nov. 26, Denmon advised hunters to take precautions such as wearing rubber gloves when field-dressing deer.
Also pay attention to how a deer is acting before you shoot it, Denmon said. Look for signs that it may be infected, such as droopy ears or acting lethargic.
During an Oct. 17 public meeting, an official with the agriculture department estimated that as many as 100 farms could be impacted by the CWD finding. According to the department, there are more than 1,100 farms in the state that possess cervids such as deer and elk. The department is continuing to trace all farms in the state with animals that may have had direct or indirect contact with the Adams County location.