A previously-captive deer that is roaming around the Pennsylvania countryside has wildlife officials worried since it escaped from a farm that tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). One deer from the farm in Adams County tested positive for CWD on October 10 and the remaining deer on the farm were to be euthanized because of their exposure to the disease.

Out of a total of 10 remaining deer nine were euthanized, but the tenth escaped and is still at large. The deer that tested positive for CWD was the first documented case in Pennsylvania, making it the 23rd state to test positive. The farm and surrounding farms were quarantined.

The disease has no known cure and a deer can only be tested for the disease when it is dead.

The sole deer that managed to escape was called Pink 23. As shooters from the United States and Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture worked on eliminating the deer from the farm on Thursday, October 18, Pink 23 broke through the fence and ran free.

Agriculture officials hoped the deer would return on its own to a familiar place, but there has yet to be any sign of the deer. It can be identified by a yellow tag in its ear.

It is still uncertain whether the deer has CWD, since test results on the remaining nine deer will be known for several weeks.

Kip Adams, a biologist and outreach coordinator for the Quality Deer Management Association in Pennsylvania, worries that the upcoming rut may be detrimental to deer populations if Pink 23 does in fact have CWD. “If you had to pick the one worst time of year for something like this to happen, this would be it,” Adams told Trib Total Media. “This is pretty scary.”

*Update: The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture confirmed on Thursday, December 6 that the deer known as Pink 23 was harvested by a hunter on the opening day of firearm deer season. It tested negative for CWD.

Image from Benny Mazur (Benimoto) on the flickr Creative Commons

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