Allegheny National Forest Continuing Actions to Address Chronic Wasting Disease

The USDA Forest Service has decided to extend an order to temporarily restrict wildlife feeding on 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 It will remain in place until the order is rescinded.

The order prohibits feeding wildlife or laying or placing any food, fruit, hay, grain, chemical, salt, or other minerals on the Allegheny National Forest. Exceptions are made for:

  • Persons placing a bird feeder in a developed campground unless such bird feeder has been identified as being visited by other wildlife species.
  • 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 fire fighting force in the performance of an official duty.

On May 26, 2021, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture confirmed that a captive white-tailed deer on a Warren County hunting 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 develops 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 spread to humans.

The feeding of wildlife can amplify the transmission of diseases like CWD and result in long-term habitat destruction, increased vehicle collisions, habituation to humans, and alteration of normal behavioral patterns.

The supporting documents for this decision are available for review at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=62420.  The closure order is posted under Forest Supervisor Orders on the Allegheny National Forest website.

For more information, please contact Public Affairs Officer Christopher Leeser at 814-728-6281, or 4 Farm Colony Drive, Warren, PA 16365.