We haven't seen a case of Chronic Wasting Disease in New York state for about eight years, but the Department of Environmental Conservation has issued its annual warning about it anyway. CWD was first confirmed in NYS in 2005, but after a rigorous extirpation and examination program the diseased animals were identified and removed, halting the spread of this potentially troublesome disease.
Existing CWD regulations still prohibit importing certain parts of whitetail deer, moose or American elk taken in CWD-positive areas. As a result, any hunter who takes a deer or elk in those areas must now butcher the animal, or have it butchered, and remove the prohibited parts before entering New York state.
"Prohibited parts" include the brain, eyes, spinal cord, tonsils, intestinal tract, spleen and certain lymph nodes. Any qualified meat cutter or wild game butcher will know exactly how to do it.
If you plan to head out to one of those areas for a deer, moose or elk hunt and care to learn a bit more about Chronic Wasting Disease you can go to DEC's website at www.dec.ny.gov/animals. Just enter "CWD" in the subject box and you should go right to it.
Some years ago, after field dressing a deer with multiple ticks, I decided wearing shoulder-length, plastic gutting gloves might be a wise idea. They did hamper me a bit, but more importantly, I succeeded in poking my knife right through the gloves and nicking my fingers almost every time I used them; carelessness on my part, I guess. The gloves may have helped me avoid the ticks but once they were punctured they wouldn't have protected me from any blood-borne disease.
However, I did learn to be more careful. Aside from a few ticks I've occasionally found on my clothing, I've never contracted any sort of malady, including CWD, from any deer I've ever field dressed -- before or after using gutting gloves -- so perhaps it did work. In any event, it's cheap insurance and how easily they'll nick through depends largely upon the quality and strength of the glove.
Admittedly, the ones I used were "bargain basement." At the very least, wash your hands thoroughly after field dressing, dragging and skinning a deer.
EMPLOYEE WINS AWARD
Stephen Patch, senior fish and wildlife biologist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s New York Field Office in Cortland, was recently presented with the New York State Council of Trout Unlimited’s Professional Resource Award at a general meeting of the New York State Council of Trout Unlimited in Cold Brook.
The honor is awarded annually to a conservation professional who has made exemplary contributions to New York’s fisheries conservation.
Patch, who is responsible for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s oversight in New York regarding hydro dams and generators, was recognized for outstanding contributions in ensuring that dam operators and power producers meet rigid standards regarding water flows, fish protection and other issues that impact fish habitat and propagation.
Especially significant was his work on the re-licensing of the Moses-Saunders Power Project on the St. Lawrence River, which resulted in establishment of a major fund to improve and enhance New York’s fisheries. In addition, Patch has made major contributions on many other re-licensing efforts within the state.
LAKE PLACID VISIT
Last week I visited the Lake Placid area to participate in a joint conference of the Outdoor Writers Association of America and the New York State Outdoor Writers Association. Since I'm an active member of both groups it was a double pleasure being able to attend this joint conference. I'll have more on this conclave in next week's column.