Massachusetts' Deer CWD Free

For the sixth consecutive year, the Massachusetts deer herd has been given a clean bill of health with no evidence of chronic wasting disease after testing in a nationwide monitoring program.

A federally certified veterinary diagnostic laboratory has indicated that all the brain, lymph node, and tonsil samples taken from members of the deer family during last fall’s hunting season tested negative for CWD, according to the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. In late 2007 and early 2008, biologists collected 487 samples from hunter-harvested and car-killed deer from across the state for CWD monitoring and testing.

For the second year, at least one moose sample from a road kill was submitted because CWD was found in Colorado moose killed during 2006. The Massachusetts samples were negative.

The wasting disease is a fatal neurological disorder known to affect white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. The World Health Organization has concluded that there is no evidence that people can become infected with CWD, which was first identified in the late 1960s in Colorado. The disease has since moved to several Midwestern states, Canada, and in 2005, deer in New York and West Virginia tested positive.

State officials responded to the positive New York tests by implementing strict regulations making it illegal for anyone to import, process or possess whole carcasses or parts of deer or elk from areas where CWD has been detected. It is also unlawful to import all species of live deer, including European red deer, sika deer, fallow deer and reindeer, all species commonly raised commercially. The only exceptions to the regulations: meat that is deboned, cleaned skull caps, hides and finished taxidermy mounts.

Warm weather, rain and fog plagued hunters who favor bows and shotguns, but muzzleloaders benefited from the cold temperatures and snowstorm that arrived three days before their season opened on Dec. 15, and provided ideal conditions for tracking deer and motivating them to move around for food until its end on Dec. 31. Muzzleloaders experienced the second-best season ever, resuming an upward trend in hunting with the challenging single-shot primitive firearm that began a decade ago.

A total of 11,281 deer were taken during the 2007 season, including 149 shot during the controlled hunt at the Quabbin Reservoir, according to MassWildlife. The storm helped boost harvest numbers about six percent over the 2006 season, but well below the state’s record harvest of 12,417 in 2002.

Muzzleloaders bagged 2,157 deer, up by nearly 30 percent from the 1,482 taken in 2006, but shy of the record 2,325 deer shot in 2005. Late-season hunters had the best luck in the Central part of the state, where 555 deer were taken. Muzzleloader deer kills in other districts: Western, 358; Connecticut Valley, 388; Northeast, 437; Southeast, 419.

Archers statewide bagged a total of 3,223 deer, down from the 2006 harvest of 3,162, while shotgun hunters took 5,745 animals, up from the 2006 harvest of 5,604.

For the second successive hunting season, the most deer overall (2,848) were taken in the southeastern part of the state between Routes 128 and 1A and the Cape Cod Canal. Central Mass. hunters followed closely, bagging 2,775 deer.

Tree Stand Shoot
The Century Sportsman’s Club will hold a 3-D Hunters Tree Stand Shoot from 6 a.m. to noon tomorrow at the club, 531 Rochdale St., Auburn.

Contestants will be shooting at 30 targets from tree stands located throughout the property.

There also will be decision and novelty shoots. For more information, call the club at: (508) 832-2211.

Quabbin deer hunt set
Aug. 15 is the deadline for hunters to file applications for the 2008 controlled deer hunt at the Quabbin Reservoir. For the second year, those participating may use black powder firearms. However, all applicants must possess a valid Firearms Identification Card.

The hunt will take place during the 2008 statewide shotgun deer season in four areas of the Quabbin — Dec. 4 and 5 in Pelham and New Salem, and Dec. 11 and 12 in Hardwick and Petersham.

Applications for a hunt permit are available from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Web site — www.miass.gov/dcr/watersupply/watershed/hunt2008.htm — or at the agency’s field offices at the Quabbin or Wachusett reservoirs. The state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife also has applications at its headquarters and field offices.

About 1,100 permits will be drawn Sept. 3 based on hunters’ license numbers. Successful applicants will be notified by late September. For information, call the Quabbin Visitors’ Center at (413) 323-722.