There were 1,060 white-tailed deer that tested positive for chronic wasting disease in Wisconsin during the 2018 surveillance year, which ran from April 1 through March 31. That’s nearly double the CWD cases that were tested the year before.

More than 17,200 deer were sampled and tested for CWD statewide in 2018, compared to 9,841 in 2017. Most of the positive detections were within the endemic area in southern Wisconsin, but Marquette County reported its first positive, and positives were registered in the already CWD-affected counties of Eau Claire, Lincoln, Portage, Adams, Juneau, Vernon, Crawford and Dodge.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has monitored trends in CWD distribution and prevalence within Wisconsin since its discovery in 2002. To date, more than 227,000 deer have been sampled for CWD statewide with over 5,200 testing positive.

In 2018, the number of deer sampled and determined to be positive for CWD by each management zone is as follows:

  • Central Farmland Zone: 5,489 sampled, 9 positives.
  • Central Forest Zone: 639 sampled, 11 positives.
  • Northern Forest Zone: 2,354 sampled, 1 positive (Oneida County).
  • Southern Farmland Zone: 8,571 sampled, 1,039 positives.

There are 56 CWD-affected counties due to wild and captive CWD positive detections. In 2018, Buffalo, Chippewa, Dunn, Pepin, Trempealeau, La Crosse, Fond du Lac, Marinette, Florence, Lincoln and Langlade counties were added as CWD-affected counties, and Green Lake County was added as CWD-affected on March 1, 2019.

State wildlife health officials say the increase in sampling stems from efforts to make it easier for hunters to submit samples.

“We continue to explore ways to make sampling easy for hunters and will work closely with them to make it even more convenient in years to come,” said Tami Ryan, DNR wildlife health section chief. “Once again, hunter cooperation has been outstanding. On behalf of our whole department, I want to thank hunters and the private businesses that assist with our surveillance efforts for their continued role in providing samples and helping us monitor this disease within Wisconsin. Overall, interest from hunters to have their deer CWD tested appears to be increasing.”

Efforts include the use of self-serve kiosks and enhanced communication and outreach efforts. Kiosks provide a 24/7 drop-off option for hunter. Ryan said the kiosks are easy to use and that hunters have expressed satisfaction with the kiosk option.

New for 2018, individuals or organizations could volunteer to Adopt-a-Kiosk throughout the deer season. The main goal of the AAK program is to work with volunteers to enhance CWD sample numbers. Also new for 2018, individuals or organizations could volunteer to Adopt-a-Dumpster with the goal of providing hunters an option for appropriate deer carcass waste disposal.

The average statewide turnaround time for CWD testing during the 2018 deer season was 12 days, compared to just under 15 days in 2017. The turnaround time is measured from the date a CWD sample is taken to a CWD sampling station to when the test results are received by the hunter. The department will continue efforts to lower the turnaround time by becoming more efficient with cost and time.

Baiting and feeding

New baiting and feeding bans were initiated on Feb. 1 for Waushara, Wood, Racine and Kenosha counties. The ban was lifted for Marquette County in December 2018 and added back March 1. Green Lake County was also added to the ban March 1. Hunters and landowners are encouraged to check the DNR baiting and feeding webpage frequently for updates, as new baiting and feeding bans may be enacted in 2019 with new CWD detections. Landowners and hunters should contact their local wildlife biologist to determine if baiting and feeding bans end dates have changed within individual counties, based on CWD test results.

None of the counties identified statewide will be removed from the baiting and feeding ban in 2019. Additional information on baiting and feeding will be provided in advance of the 2019 deer hunting season.

There are recommended practices to reduce and prevent the spread of CWD. Some of these actions include proper transportation, handling and disposal of deer carcass waste, reporting sick deer, following baiting and feeding information and cleaning/decontamination of equipment.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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