ELK COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – On Aug. 30, 2022, the USDA Forest Service moved to extend an order to temporarily restrict wildlife feeding in the Allegheny National Forest.
The restriction, which has been in place since September 2021, only applies to activities on National Forest System lands. It will remain in place until the order is cancelled.
The order prohibits feeding wildlife or depositing or placing food, fruit, hay, grain, chemicals, salt or other minerals in the forest.
Exceptions are made for:
- Persons setting up a bird feeder in a serviced campsite unless that bird feeder has been identified as being visited by other wildlife.
- Persons or groups with a permit specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited act or omission.
- Any federal, state, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty.
On May 26, 2021, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture confirmed that a captive white-tailed deer at a Warren County game preserve tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). CWD is a highly contagious neurological disease that affects members of the deer or cervid family and is always fatal to the animals it infects. It grows very slowly in the lymph nodes, spinal tissue, and brains of deer and elk in Pennsylvania.
To date, there is no evidence that it can be transmitted to humans.
Wildlife feeding can amplify the transmission of diseases such as CWD and lead to long-term habitat destruction, increased collisions with vehicles, habituation to humans, and alteration of normal behaviors.
To learn more about the USDA Forest Service’s decision, you can read the closure documents in the CWD section of their website.