Rate of fatal deer disease will increase in southern Wisconsin
Registration stations in Rock, Walworth and Green counties that work with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to test deer for CWD include:
-- Chad’s Taxidermy, 1102 Larson Road, Clinton.
-- Milton Bait and Tackle, 24 S. Clear Lake Ave., Milton.
-- Footville Meat Market, 280 N. Gilbert St., Footville.
-- Lunatic Red’s Bar, 120 W. Delavan St., Janesville.
-- Bob Black’s Meat Processing, 130 N. Harrison St., Delavan.
-- Pete’s Tire Service, W8285 Sunrise Lane, Whitewater.
-- Hoesly’s Meats Inc., 219 Industrial Drive, New Glarus.
Search the DNR’s Web site for other CWD testing stations.
The number of deer that tested positive for chronic wasting disease through Aug. 30 includes:
-- Inside the CWD management zone: 1,173
-- Outside the zone: 0
-- Rock County: 70
-- Walworth County: 54
-- Green County: 2
-- Jefferson County: 2
Deer hunting seasons in the chronic wasting disease zone, which includes all of Rock and Walworth Counties, include:
-- Archery season, earn-a-buck, Sept. 12-Jan. 3.
-- Youth hunt, Oct. 11-12.
-- Early firearm season, antlerless only, Oct. 1-18.
-- Firearm deer season, earn-a-buck, Nov. 21-29.
-- Muzzleloader season, earn-a-buck, Nov. 30-Dec. 9.
-- Late firearm season, antlerless only, Dec. 10-13.
-- Holiday firearm season, earn-a-buck, Dec. 24-Jan. 3.
JANESVILLE Deadly chronic wasting disease will continue to spread, threatening the state’s deer population and hunting culture for years to come, a national expert said.
“Just from a conservation standpoint, thinking about the deer herd out there, this is not a good thing,” said Bryan Richards, CWD project leader for the U.S Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center in Madison.
“People may well choose to go hunting elsewhere.”
The rate of the disease in bucks 2½ years old in western Dane County and eastern Iowa County, for example, was 15.5 percent in 2008, up from 10 percent in 2007, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The prevalence in yearling bucks was 6 percent in 2008, double the previous year.
“I think that outcome was anticipated at least by those of us that have spent time looking at disease trends in other areas,” Richards said.
A gradual increase in the rate of the disease is expected to continue in the future, he said.
In Colorado and Wyoming, CWD slowly increased in deer over time, eventually infecting about 30 percent of deer in some herds, said Dennis Heisey, CWD research biologist for the National Wildlife Health Center.
Wisconsin likely will follow that trend, Richards said.
“In Wisconsin, our state numbers are much lower than that,” he said. “But over time, there is no reason to think we won’t get there.”
If that happens, evidence suggests hunters will go elsewhere, threatening the state’s hunting culture as a recreation and boon to the economy, Richards said.
Although research shows the disease is not threatening to humans or livestock, hunters likely would not want to hunt in areas where so many deer have CWD, he said.
And, if hunters leave, the deer herd would explode, Richards said.
Overpopulation could lead to more deer-vehicle collisions, crop damage and suburban encounters, he said.
“Lots of things go wrong when you have too many deer,” Richards said.
CWD was discovered in southern Wisconsin in February 2002. Nearly 152,000 deer have been tested for the disease, with 1,172 testing positive.
The DNR created a CWD management zone to minimize the spread of the disease. The zone includes all or parts of 16 counties in south-central Wisconsin, including Rock, Walworth, Jefferson and Green counties.
The DNR wants to manage the disease through continued population reduction. The deer population in the CWD management zone is lower than in recent years, but remains higher than population goals, according to the DNR.
Hunters in the zone can use rifles instead of shotguns, enjoy a holiday gun season and kill an unlimited number of bucks for every antlerless deer they shoot first.
Officials reviewing CWD management plan
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has proposed a new chronic wasting disease management plan that aims to minimize the number of infected deer and stop the spread of the fatal disease.
The DNR’s previous goal was to try and eradicate the disease, said Dan Jones, the DNR’s CWD assistant biologist.
The strategy changed after seven years of CWD management failed to prevent an increase in the infection rate and an acceptance that the disease is not going away, according to the DNR.
“It’s become increasingly obvious that this was going to be a long-term management effort,” Jones said. “It definitely won’t be something that just goes away overnight.
“Hopefully, we can reduce it.”
The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board recently tabled the revised plan and voted to appoint a special committee to review it. The committee is expected to report back to the board at its December meeting.
According to the DNR, the CWD management plan’s key strategies include:
-- Preventing new outbreaks of CWD. Stopping CWD from cropping up in new areas of the state is less expensive and less damaging than fighting the disease after it’s established.
-- Responding to new disease locations. Aggressively responding if CWD is discovered in a new area is the best option for control.
-- Controlling distribution and intensity of CWD. This includes reducing the number of deer in infected areas through hunting and other methods.
-- Increasing public recognition and understanding of CWD risks. Residents must be informed of the latest scientific knowledge and recommendations for managing the disease.
-- Addressing the needs of hunters and residents. This includes deer testing, donating venison to food pantries, disposing of deer carcasses, monitoring for human prion diseases and examining potential risk to livestock.
-- Enhancing the scientific information about CWD with research, funding for university research and collaborating in studies conducted nationally and internationally.
How can I get my deer tested for CWD?
If hunters want their deer tested for chronic wasting disease, several local registration stations can help.
Seven stations in Rock, Walworth and Green counties work with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to test deer for CWD.
Mike Foy, DNR wildlife biologist for Rock and Green County, said many local hunters voluntarily test their deer for CWD.
“There are people who do it for health reasons, there are people who do it because they’re interested in the disease, and there are people who do it because we ask them to,” he said.
The World Health Organization advises people to only eat meat from animals that test negative for CWD, Foy said.
Yet research shows the disease is not threatening to humans, said Bryan Richards, CWD project leader for the U.S Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center in Madison.
The bottom line is science is in the beginning stage of knowledge and research on CWD, Foy said.
“Why take a chance?” he said. “Let’s err on the side of caution until we know more.”
When you kill a deer, take it to one of the registration stations helping with CWD testing, said Dan Jones, CWD assistant biologist for the DNR.
The registration station will collect your deer’s head and your contact information, he said. In some cases, lymph nodes can be taken from the deer’s neck for testing.
A number is assigned to the deer, and the head goes to a DNR testing lab, Jones said.
The result of the test is mailed to you on a postcard, he said. If the test is positive, you’ll get a phone call.
Hunters can have their deer tested for free, Jones said, and results will be returned in four to six weeks.
Veterinarians will test for a fee.
Testing is voluntary except in mandatory zones, including the eastern half of Rock County and the western half of Walworth County, he said.
Nearly 152,000 deer in Wisconsin have been tested for CWD, with 1,173 testing positive.
In Rock County, 5,917 deer have been analyzed for CWD, with 70 testing positive.
In Walworth County, 5,428 deer have been tested for CWD, with 54 testing positive.
The DNR plans to sample 8,250 adult deer in 2009.