WARREN (WJET/WFXP) — The U.S. Forest Service is currently accepting public comments on a proposal that would temporarily restrict wildlife feeding in the Allegheny National Forest for one year. If approved, the restriction would only apply to activities on National Forest System lands.
The order would prohibit feeding wildlife or placing any food, such as fruit, hay, grain, chemical, salt, or other minerals. Exceptions would be made for:
- Persons placing a bird feeder in a developed campground, unless that bird feeder is being visited by other wildlife species and someone identifies this
- Persons or groups with a permit that specifically authorizes them to continue feeding wildlife
- Any Federal, State, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or fire fighting force performing an official duty.
This proposal is in response to findings from May 26, 2021, when the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture confirmed that a captive white-tailed deer on a Warren County hunting preserve tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). CWD is a highly contagious neurological disease that affects members of the deer family and is always fatal to the animals it infects. It develops very slowly in the lymph nodes, spinal tissue, and brains of deer and elk. As of now, there is no evidence that it can be spread to humans.
The feeding of deer can amplify the transmission of diseases like CWD can pose risks to other wildlife and result in long-term habitat destruction, increased vehicle collisions, habituation to humans, or alteration of normal behavioral patterns..
If needed, similar short or long-term restrictions may be considered in the future.
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