Sunday, July 24, 2005
Deer and Chronic Wasting Disease Workshop Set for Aug. 13
Chronic Wasting Disease is a disease found in some deer and elk populations that damages portions of the brain and typically causes progressive loss of body condition, behavioral changes, excessive salivation and death.
The cause of the disease is suspected to be a type of prion (protein infectious particle) that is found in some tissues of infected animals.
With the March 2005 discovery of captive deer infected with chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Oneida County, New York State became the eastern most state to harbor this fatal disease of deer and elk.
Since then, two wild deer have been documented to have the disease. As of mid-June, no additional deer have been diagnosed with CWD.
Numerous issues still exist for meat processors, hunters, livestock owners, wildlife biologists, health professionals, veterinarians and the general public.
To address those issues, a daylong workshop, from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., will be held Aug. 13 at the Wyndham Hotel, 6301 Route 298, East Syracuse. It is sponsored by the American Wildlife Conservation Foundation, Cornell University, CWD Alliance and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Only three species of the deer family are known to be naturally susceptible to CWD: elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer. Susceptibility of other members of the deer family and other wildlife species is not known, although ongoing research is further exploring this question.
CWD is a disease unique to North America. As of this past spring, chronic wasting disease has been found in wild deer and elk in Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. In captive deer and elk, it has been found in Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
The objective of the upcoming workshop is to bring together some of the nation's and state's leading authorities on CWD to provide information on the status and control of the disease in New York. This workshop will provide the forum necessary for presentation and discussion of facts that will allow various stakeholders to make informed decisions.
Topics will include: cause and effects of CWD, the Wisconsin Experience, current status in the United States and New York state and public health concerns.
The workshop for sportsmen, farmers and communicators begins with registration and viewing of exhibits. At 9 a.m., Dr. Paul Curtis, Cornell Cooperative Extension, will kick off the workshop with welcoming remarks followed by a series of chronic wasting disease experts. These include speakers from NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, NYS Department of Public Health and the North American Deer Farmers Association.
The $20 registration fee includes proceedings, booklet, morning break and lunch. Make checks payable to: Cornell University and mail to: Diana Bryant, CWD Workshop, 108 Fernow Hall, Ithaca, N.Y., 14853, or Fax to 607-255-2815 (with credit card information). Or register online at: http://wildlifecontrol.info/CWD/Workshopinfo.htm. Payment must be received by Aug. 7. Space is available on a first come, first serve basis. There will be no refunds after that date and no late registrations will be accepted.
All participants will receive a copy of the proceedings and the booklet "Understanding Chronic Wasting Disease in NY State and the Northeast Region.''
This will be an outstanding workshop for New York deer hunters, deer meat processors and game farm owners.
Wilson Hill WMA de-watering dilemma
As part of the New York Power Authority relicensing agreement, DEC recommended steps to improve water level management at the Louisville Wildlife Management Area.
A contentious situation has arisen due to the proposed method of de-watering the pools. DEC claims a gravity drainage system would be best suited for this project. The St. Lawrence River pool water would be diverted and allowed to drain into the Grasse River. That plan, however, is ill conceived, at best, and should not be permitted.
The introduction of invasive species into the Grasse River will definitely occur. And ironically, the same agency that publicly promotes the negative effects the inadvertent transportation of invasive species by boaters and anglers, is guilty of the same offense.
Instead of a gravity flow, DEC and NYPA should put their heads together and come up with a plan to divert WMA pool water back in to the St. Lawrence and not the Grasse.
I'm not an engineer nor am I a biologist. However, I am a waterfowler and have seen first hand how farmers and waterfowling clubs flood and de-water property during waterfowl season. It's as simple as using high-volume pumps.
Tom Tatham, licensing manager for NYPA, said the drainage would need to carry up to 50 cubic feet per second of water. My math may be wrong, but I figured the de-watering would be approximately 22,443 gallons per minute flow.
A quick search on the Internet discovered a number of high-volume pumps could be purchased (if not borrowed from NYPA's garage) that will handle flows well over 80,000 gallons per minute.
Once pumps de-water Wilson Hill they could be used at other local Wildlife Management Areas for controlled flooding or de-watering.
During a recent meeting of the St. Lawrence Country Environmental Management Council, Tatham said he was willing to consider alternative options.
I trust Tatham and DEC will reconsider the diversion and develop a new ecosystem-friendly solution for Wilson Hill WMA.