Congressman Glenn Thompson and Congressman John Joyce traveled to East Freedom where hundreds were gathered at the Fire Department and spoke at a meeting concerning CWD (Chronic Waste Disease) that is affecting the deer population in Pennsylvania. Starting with a small local protest that occurred outside of Roaring Spring, PA about a month ago regarding the PA Game Commission’s method of reducing the deer population with the use of sharpshooters, the topic has gained much attention throughout the US. Rodney Swope Jr., a representative from Sportsmen for the Future spoke against the drastic measures of deer culling.

Congressman Glenn (GT) Thompson speaks about CWD concerns.

The meeting was officially held by the Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania and included speakers from a locally formed group called Sportsmen for the Future (the same group that started the local protest). Discussions were also held on the PA Game Commission’s idea of changing the first day of hunting season to Saturday instead of Monday. A raise of hands was asked to show opinions on whether or not people were in favor of the idea. Nearly all of the people in the room raised their hands that they were not in favor. One of the main reasons was because of hunting season impeding on valuable family time over Thanksgiving weekend. Another reason that was stated was concerns over not having enough time to “prep” for the first day. Many hunters spend the weekend preparing for the big day and feel they would have to take additional time off of work.

John Eveland, a renown ecologist, spoke in high detail about CWD and it’s effect. He stated that even if much of the deer herd was wiped out by the PA Game Commission, traces of CWD will still remain on the ground, so it will just keep cycling to other deer that traffic those areas on the future. He also talked about the bacteria’s high tolerance and strength. He gave examples of how hard it is to kill the bacteria and that standard methods will not kill it. John also spoke about Dr. Frank O. Bastian, a biologist at LSU. Dr. Bastian has doing research for years a potential vaccine for CWD.

The Congressmen that were attending the meeting spoke in support of the research and talked about a Bill (H.R. 837) that has been introduced. If passed, it will allow further dedicated research on the disease which can ultimately help fast track a solution.

From left to right – Matt Johnson (Sportsmen for the Future), Representative Jim Gregory, Congressman John Joyce, Ecologist John Eveland, Congressman Glenn Thompson

Citizens attending the meeting took turns voicing their concerns and thoughts about the disease and showed their support.

Representative Jim Gregory was one of the final speakers. He has also put much work into making local voices heard. He pointed to the citizens and told them to “Keep doing what you are doing!” in reference to being persistent, contacting officials, and voicing their concerns.