HARRISBURG – Following a week-long drill and review, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe announced that he is pleased with the progress that the agency is making to response should chronic wasting disease (CWD) be found in the state.
“Currently, there are no confirmed or suspected cases of CWD-infected deer or elk in Pennsylvania, and we are working to ensure that it stays that way,” Roe said. “While there always is room for improvement, I believe that, having gone through this planning exercise, our agency response plan provides a solid foundation should CWD be identified within our borders.
“Working through this drill, we have identified certain equipment, materials and contact information we must refine in order to improve our preparedness. We also look forward to the next meeting of the statewide CWD Task Force, so that we can share what we have learned and what we believe we need to address in the overall state response plan.”
Launched on Feb. 19, Dr. Walter Cottrell, Game Commission wildlife veterinarian, and Calvin W. DuBrock, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Management director, called agency staff on the CWD response team to start the drill. Cottrell and DuBrock told staff to report to their offices for a meeting Tuesday morning to begin to review prepared scenarios.
“To more fully evaluate our preparedness, we developed different scenarios for each of the six region offices and the Harrisburg headquarters,” Roe said. “Each scenario had a different set of facts, variables and challenges that staff has to work through.”
On Nov. 11, Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe announced that the agency would conduct a CWD response drill in the first quarter of 2007. The decision to hold the drill was a product of two meetings to review and update the state’s response plan, as well as the agency’s internal operational plan.
Created in 1895 as an independent state agency, the Game Commission is responsible for conserving and managing all wild birds and mammals in the Commonwealth, establishing hunting seasons and bag limits, enforcing hunting and trapping laws, and managing habitat on the 1.4 million acres of State Game Lands it has purchased over the years with hunting and furtaking license dollars to safeguard wildlife habitat. The agency also conducts numerous wildlife conservation programs for schools, civic organizations and sportsmen’s clubs.
The Game Commission does not receive any general state taxpayer dollars for its annual operating budget. The agency is funded by license sales revenues; the state’s share of the federal Pittman-Robertson program, which is an excise tax collected through the sale of sporting arms and ammunition; and monies from the sale of oil, gas, coal, timber and minerals derived from State Game Lands.