Staff and Wire Reports
Local Game Commission officials anticipated a high turnout of Pennsylvania hunters hitting the fields and woods Monday for the opening of the 2012 deer season — and far better results — unlike a year ago, when rainfall dampened more than spirits.
“It’s a great day to be deer hunting,” said J. Donatelli, Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife conservation officer and land management supervisor, who chalked up the season’s strong start to ideal conditions and perfect temperatures. “I’d imagine there would be a better turnout than last year, when it was raining.”
It was too soon to tell on Monday if his prediction was proving true, and no official numbers were available. But some hunters showing up at opening-day contests said the day could not have been better.
“It was a great day to open the season on,” said Dennis Crum of Saegertown, as he and his son measured a trophy buck at Safari Bar’s contest in Meadville. “It seems as though there are more deer whenever it snows just a little bit.”
The state’s two-week rifle deer season included special restrictions on some central Pennsylvania hunters because of a deadly disease found in captive deer earlier this year.
Hunters who take deer in a 600-square-mile area covering parts of York and Adams counties must have them tested for chronic wasting disease. The neurological infection can’t be transmitted to humans but is deadly to elk, moose and deer.
Joe Neville, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, said in a telephone interview from a check-in station in Adams County that officials there expected to take samples from the lymph nodes and spines of 200 deer by the end of opening day.
“For most of our hunters it’s been a very quick process, five or 10 minutes,” Neville said.
Two deer on Adams County farms died of the disease earlier this year, making them the first cases reported in the state. No infections have been reported in the wild population.
About 750,000 hunters are expected to take part in deer season.
For the past 10 years, officials have routinely tested thousands of samples from meat processors to monitor the deer herd for signs of the disease, and this is the first time testing has been required at check-in stations, Neville said.
It is expected to take four to six weeks to get results from the tests, he said.