From the Field

Connecting YOU with Wildlife – Pennsylvania Game Commission

No. 1 – What is Chronic Wasting Disease?

Through the end of deer season, we will be posting a frequently asked question (FAQ) and answer related to chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Pennsylvania in an album on our Facebook page.

We know many of you – hunters, non-hunters, processors, taxidermists and more – have questions about CWD and the effects this disease can cause. We are here as a resource and want to help everyone understand the complexities and details related to CWD in our state.

If you have a specific question related to CWD, email

Here’s the question for week one:

CWD Fact 1


Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is an always-fatal neurodegenerative disease of cervids including deer and elk. CWD is a type of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy disease, other TSE diseases include mad cow disease, scrapie, and Cruetzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The causative agent of TSE diseases is an abnormally folded protein or prion. As these prions accumulate in the brain, they begin to cause tissue damage, eventually leading to holes in the brain.

CWD can be transmitted directly (through animal-to-animal contact) or indirectly (through a contaminated environment). CWD prions can be shed through bodily fluids such as saliva, urine, and feces. CWD was first detected in 1967 in a captive deer facility in Colorado. Since then, CWD has spread to 25 states and three Canadian provinces, including Pennsylvania.

Click here for more information.

As a reminder, if you have a specific question related to CWD email it to



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DMA 2 Permits

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is enlisting assistance from hunters in an effort to slow the spread of chronic wasting disease. The Game Commission has developed a permit that can be used to hunt antlerless deer, but can be used only within the boundaries of what is known as Disease Management Area 2 – the lone area of the state where chronic wasting disease has been detected in free-ranging deer.

A total of 13,000 permits will be made available with the intention of reducing the deer population by one deer per square mile in DMA 2.

Responding to a need identified by the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners, the permits seek to focus hunting pressure inside the Disease Management Area (DMA), where deer numbers must be kept in check to slow the potential spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD). At the same time, the permit system enables the Game Commission to avoid a reduction in the deer herd in the area surrounding DMA 2 – where CWD has not been detected.

DMA 2 includes parts of Bedford, Blair, Huntingdon, Cambria and Fulton counties. The DMA lies within Wildlife Management Units 4A, 4D and 2C (WMUs 4A, 4D and 2C).

There are some differences between the application process for a DMA 2 permit and that for an antlerless license.

Only residents and nonresidents ages 12 and older with valid general hunting licenses may apply for permits. Participants in Mentored Youth and Mentored Adult hunting programs are ineligible to make application, and the permits cannot be transferred to participants in those programs.

Also, individuals may apply for a DMA 2 permit AND apply for a WMU specific antlerless permit during the same round of applications.

How much does a DMA 2 permit cost?

Each permit costs $6.70, and payments must be made by credit card, or check or money order made payable to the “Pennsylvania Game Commission.”

How to apply

  • Applications for DMA 2 permits will be accepted in two ways – electronically through the Game Commission’s Outdoor Shop, or by mail. The Outdoor Shop can be accessed here. The DMA 2 link will go live on July 14.
  • Those wishing to send applications by mail can obtain an application form at the Game Commission’s website, the agency’s Harrisburg headquarters or any region office.

What is the DMA 2 permit application schedule?

The application schedule is similar to that for antlerless deer licenses, however, residents and nonresidents can apply on the same dates in all rounds.

  • Applications will be accepted beginning July 14. Each eligible applicant may submit one application during this first round, which lasts three weeks.
  • Beginning Aug. 4, a second round of application begins. Again in the second round, each eligible applicant may submit one application. However, an applicant who did not submit an application during the first round may submit two during the second round.
  • A third round of applications will begin Aug. 18. Eligible applicants may submit an unlimited number of applications during this round, and the round will continue until all permits have been issued.

Where and when can a DMA 2 permit be used?

  • DMA 2 permits must be used within DMA 2.
  • These antlerless deer permits can be used during any deer season, including the antlered deer season.

Reporting Requirements

Those who are issued DMA 2 permits are required to submit reports, regardless of whether they harvest a deer. Harvests must be reported within 10 days. Nonharvests must be reported by Feb. 5. Those who fail to report as required are subject to criminal prosecution and may be ineligible to apply for permits if the program is continued the following year.

Through their reports, hunters provide valuable data that plays a crucial role in the Game Commission’s management of CWD.


Email with questions and comments.

Photo: Joe Kosack