CWD tests negative for deer on northwest Wisconsin hunting preserve

MADISON (Press Release) - Final chronic wasting disease results are negative for a white-tailed deer on a northwestern Wisconsin hunting preserve, State Veterinarian Dr. Robert Ehlenfeldt announced Thursday. This means the deer did not have CWD.

The National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, reported the test results late Tuesday. Ehlenfeldt released the quarantine that had been in place since Nov. 4 for the hunting preserve and an associated deer breeding farm.

NVSL pathologists ran tissue samples through what they described as "an exhaustive process using all diagnostic techniques available" and did not detect CWD.

The 3½-year-old buck was routinely tested after being killed by a hunter Oct. 18 in Bayfield County. Initial screening tests at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory were reported positive on Nov. 4. Following standard procedure, WVDL sent the samples to the national laboratory for confirmation. Screening tests for any disease are deliberately over-sensitive, so they do sometimes yield false positives.

DATCP does not name owners or locations of CWD-suspect animals unless final test results are positive. However, the hunting preserve and farm in question has a long record of negative CWD results, with nearly 130 animals tested in the past five years. Animal health regulations in Wisconsin require that all farm-raised deer and elk 16 months and older, including those in hunting preserves, must be tested for CWD when they die or are killed. There is no live test for CWD.

To date, more than 27,600 farm-raised deer have been tested in Wisconsin. Of those, 97 were positive for CWD on eight farms and hunting preserves - 82 on a single Portage County operation, where legal action delayed destruction of the herd for more than three years after the initial case was found. One of the infected animals was an elk, the rest have been white-tailed deer. All infected herds have been destroyed. There has not been a new case of CWD detected in a farm-raised animal for two years.