Wednesday, March 27, 2019

New publication from Penn State Ag Alternatives: Managing Small Woodlots

Most Pennsylvania woodland owners use their property for recreation, a place to hunt and view wildlife, or as a family legacy to pass on to the next generation. Sometimes, though, woodland owners want or need to harvest trees from their woods. Timber harvesting is a time when landowners can improve their woods for what they value and for the future or cause real damage from which the woods might not recover for generations.

A new publication from Penn State Extension, Managing SmallWoodlots, will help you understand how trees and forests grow, provide steps to plan for their management, and describe how to market and sell trees. Managing Small Woodlots, authored by James Finley, Professor Emeritus of Forest Resources, Dave Jackson, Forestry Educator, Lynn Kime Senior Extension Associate, and Jayson Harper, Professor of Ag Economics, is now available online at on the Penn State Extension Web Site.

Forests cover nearly 17 million acres in Pennsylvania, representing about 60 percent of the state’s land area. Private landowners own about 70 percent of the forestland (12 million acres). Forests are important to Pennsylvania’s economy. The forest products industry is the fourth-largest manufacturing segment in the state. Beyond their economic benefits, forests contribute to our quality of life by providing clean air and water, aesthetic views, stormwater control, wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities, reasons many woodland owners continue to own and care for their land.

Because private forests are a dominant land ownership class, the decisions made by the estimated 740,000 private owners of one or more acres have a major impact on the economic, social, and ecological health of the state. Timber production has been a part of Pennsylvania’s economic history since the first Europeans arrived. Today, Pennsylvania’s forests contain world-class oak, maple, and cherry.

However, not all is well in the forest, nor can we get away with doing things as they were done in the past. Carefully applied science-based forestry practices are needed to restore forest health and provide future values for those who will own and manage our forests in the future. As a woodlot owner, you may have thought about the future of your woodland and what you might do to improve its condition and value. Check out Managing Small Woodlots; it is a great resource to get you started.

Monday, March 18, 2019

New APHIS Pests & Disease Site Launched

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has launched a new “Pests and Diseases” webpage. The new page lists all pest and disease programs managed by APHIS as part of its mission to protect American agriculture and natural resources.

On the new page, users can search by type (plant, animal), keyword (avian, fruit fly, cotton), or by the specific pest or disease (coconut rhinoceros beetle, brucellosis). You can also scroll through the page, which lists the pests and diseases alphabetically and includes a corresponding image.

APHIS created the webpage to make it easier for its customers to find critical information on pests and diseases of concern. With this tool, members of the public will have the information they need to report pests and diseases and together we can protect America’s agriculture and natural resources.

To visit the page, go to or click the Pests and Diseases link under the Resources tab on the APHIS homepage.


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Deer and Chronic Wasting Disease - What do we Know

We have been hearing a lot about Chronic Wasting Disease in the news lately.  This disease has the possibility to completely change deer and deer and deer hunting in Pennsylvania.  The disease has not been shown to impact humans but we are still advised to have deer tested and to not eat positive infected animals.

Some news has recently surfaced, actually the results are a couple of years old, that the prions, or folded proteins, are symptomatic of a spiroplasma bacteria infection and not the actual cause of the disease.  We will have to wait and see if this is actually the case.  If so, the potential for a vaccine could be in the future.

Below is a time series map provided by the LSU Ag Center showing the presence of states and provinces with CWD detections in wild or captive cervids.

Below is a link to an article from the Cornell University Wildlife Health Lab by Dr. Krysten Schuler.  In this article Dr. Schuler lays out the evidence why prions are implicated in all transmissible spongiform encephalopathy diseases, including CWD.

Prion Hypothesis for CWD: An Examination of the Evidence
February 21, 2019

I also wanted to share with you the position statement of the Quality Deer Management Association. As of February 28, 2019 they still follow the prion theory for the cause of the disease.  "Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is caused by prions, and the scientific evidence is overwhelming. While it’s important to explore all potential solutions to this serious challenge, the spiroplasma theory is not new and has been thoroughly examined for years without verification. Nothing could be better news for deer hunters than the discovery of a cure for CWD, but the recent promises that a cure is coming soon have no basis in verified science."

The Centre Daily Times recently posted an excellent summary article. I provided a link to that article below.  In it, the author, Mark Nale, interviews Duane Diefenbach, the Leader of the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Penn State to get his take on the situation.

Read more here:

Chronic Wasting Disease Continues to Spread Among PA Deer
February 23, 2019

We will have to wait and see what the research tells us in the future.  Hopefully we can find a way to stop this awful disease impacting our state mammal and potentially our elk herd. In the mean time I encourage everyone to review and follow the recommendations of the PA Game Commission as we try to figure this out.  We need to work together to stop the spread of this disease.