Park Service halts deer meat donations - abc27 WHTM

Park Service halts deer meat donations

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Deer shot and killed at Gettysburg National Military Park and the Eisenhower National Historic Site will no longer be donated to local food banks due to concerns over chronic wasting disease.

The National Park Service said Monday that federal employees will continue to reduce the herd as needed, but all deer taken from the park will be tested by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and will then be destroyed.

Biologists will monitor the deer herd to detect sick or dead deer, and officials will determine at a later date when or if food donations will be resumed, according to the Park Service.

Pennsylvania's first confirmed case of the disease fatal to deer, elk, and moose was detected two weeks ago in a captive-born and raised white-tailed deer on a deer farm in New Oxford. The state Game Commission last week established a disease management area encompassing a nearly 600-square-mile area of York and Adams counties, including part of Gettysburg National Military Park.

The National Park Service said 41 deer were removed from the parks in the week before the disease was discovered. The deer had been processed and the meat was being held at a local butcher, but none had been made available for human consumption.

Because samples were not testing before processing, the meat will be discarded, officials said.

Gettysburg and Eisenhower national parks have been reducing the number of deer in the parks by shooting since 1995. Hunting is not permitted inside the parks; only qualified federal employees have taken part in the effort.

Since 2004, 71 deer removed from the parks has been tested for chronic wasting disease and all results were negative, officials said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said there is no evidence that chronic wasting disease can be transmitted to humans, but the agency recommends people or other animals do not eat any part of an animal diagnosed with or showing signs of the disease.

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