Wisconsin DNR continues checking for CWD cases

Dan Hansen

Madison — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has monitored Chronic Wasting Disease for 14 years. Between 2002 and March 2016, the department tested over 193,000 free-ranging deer, of which more than 3,100 have tested positive for CWD, according to Tim Marien, DNR Wildlife Health biologist.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has monitored Chronic Wasting Disease for 14 years.

“There are currently 41 CWD-affected counties,” Marien related. “These counties match the counties that are prohibited from baiting and feeding. A county is included if a wild or captive animal has been tested and confirmed to be positive for CWD in the county or if a portion of the county is within a 10-mile radius of a wild or captive animal that has been tested and confirmed to be positive for CWD.”

For example, although no deer in Waupaca County have tested positive, one animal on a game farm in an adjoining county within 10 miles of the county line tested positive. That one positive test led to the baiting and feeding prohibition in Waupaca County.

During the 2015 deer hunting season, the department sampled 3,145 deer statewide, with 298 testing positive. “Sampling strategies were aimed at detecting new locations and prevalence trends. Monitoring plans focused surveillance on adult deer (the age group most likely to have CWD),” explained Marien.

Following the 2012 discovery of a CWD-positive adult doe near Shell Lake, 2015 marked the fourth year of surveillance efforts in Washburn County.

Based on recommendations from a local community action team, local landowners, and hunters helped the department sample over 2,000 deer in the area over the last four years. No new positives have been detected.

“Based on four years of sampling, all information has indicated CWD is not widespread in the Washburn area, and occurs at a very low prevalence rate,” Marien said.

More cases found

The 2012 discovery of CWD in wild deer in Juneau, Adams, and Portage counties prompted the 2013 surveillance efforts checking hunter-harvested deer in a 10-mile radius surrounding the positives.

Four additional positives were found in 2013 in Adams and Portage counties, while two additional positives were discovered in Adams County in 2014 and two more in 2015. “Surveillance was also conducted surrounding a CWD-positive captive deer farm in Marathon County, with no wild CWD deer detected,” Marien reported.

New in 2015, wildlife staff sampled wild deer in the Fairchild/Augusta area in Eau Claire County, where DATCP discovered CWD-positive deer on a private deer farm. Eighty wild deer were sampled with no wild CWD deer detected.

The ban on baiting and feeding deer has been expanded to include Oconto and Marinette counties beginning Nov. 1

The ban is the result of chronic wasting disease being detected in a captive whitetail deer on a private hunting preserve in Oconto County and reported by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection in late September.

Since 2002, CWD prevalence within the monitoring area of western Dane and eastern Iowa counties has shown an overall increasing trend in all sex and age classes.

“During the last 14 years, the trend in prevalence in adult males has risen from 8-10 percent to about 30 percent and from about 3-4 percent to nearly 15 percent in adult females,” Marien said. “During that same time, the prevalence trend in yearling males also has increased from about 2 percent to about 10 percent and from roughly 2 percent to about 8 percent in yearling females.”

2016 Testing

Hunters in the Augusta and Fairchild areas are being encouraged to offer their harvested deer for CWD testing to assist the DNR in determining the potential effects on the wild deer herd following detection of a captive CWD positive deer at a game farm in 2015.

Hunters in portions of Adams, Clark, Crawford, Eau Claire, Jackson, Juneau, Marathon and Portage counties should also be aware that the department will continue to sample hunter harvested deer for Chronic Wasting Disease, and the DNR appreciates the assistance of hunters to obtain those samples. A network of cooperating taxidermists and meat processors will be assisting in collecting samples throughout the fall from hunter-harvested deer.

“This testing will allow the department to track the prevalence and geographic distribution of the disease,” said Marien.

Tests are conducted free of charge for hunters who submit samples with the required hunter and location information. More information regarding CWD surveillance areas and sampling locations can be found at dnr.wi.gov, keywords “CWD sampling.”

CWD Response Plan public meeting Nov. 14

The public is invited to join the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, and other members of the Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan Review Committee Nov. 14 for the second of four meetings regarding DNR's 2010-2025 CWD Response Plan.

The Nov. 14 meeting will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lussier Family Heritage Center, 3101 Lake Farm Road, Madison. Additional information can be found on the department's online public meetings calendar (search keywords "CWD Response Plan Review").

The CWD Response Plan Review Committee will revisit the current CWD Response Plan, discuss research and disease management in Wisconsin, and provide recommendations for the next five years.

This initial five-year plan review is tied to Gov. Scott Walker's initiatives regarding the future of CWD management in Wisconsin. These initiatives, aimed at improving public engagement and transparency in addressing CWD, include seeking public input through County Deer Advisory Council (CDAC) meetings. A wide range of topics related to CWD, including Best Management Practices for the captive cervid industry, will be discussed during committee meetings.

The review committee consists of several governmental agencies and key partner organizations with an interest in CWD management in Wisconsin. This public involvement process is being coordinated jointly by DNR, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Committee recommendations will be posted online for public comment following the final meeting. Following the public comment period, plan recommendations will be the topic of discussion at each county's CDAC meeting in January 2017. Final recommendations will be submitted for approval by the DNR to the Natural Resources Board in March 2017.

To learn more about the CWD Response Plan, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "CWD response plan." For more information regarding CWD in Wisconsin, search keyword "CWD."