Wisconsin DNR Encouraging More Testing for CWD

By Associated Press
JANESVILLE, Wis. — Wildlife officials have been encouraging hunters in southern Wisconsin to have deer tested for chronic wasting disease amid signs the illness is increasing.

CWD tests aren't required but have been encouraged when hunters register their animals, according to the Janesville Gazette.

Nearly every hunter who has come into It's a Keeper Bait & Tackle in Janesville has opted to have his or her animal tested for the disease, owner Marci McCarten said. Her husband removes the animals' small lymph nodes, which are sent for testing.

"They (the DNR) want us to try to get a test sample for every deer that is not a fawn," McCarten said.

DNR biologist Julie Widholm said the agency hopes to have 500 deer tested in and around Rock County as part of its effort to track CWD. The DNR has been focusing on counties that are among the hardest-hit by the brain disease, which is like mad cow disease and can be fatal to deer.

A study released in September by University of Illinois researchers found that CWD has increased 5 percent since Wisconsin backed away from aggressive culling of deer with DNR sharp-shooters, longer hunting seasons and the earn-a-buck program, which required hunters to shoot an antlerless deer before shooting a buck. In Illinois, which still has aggressive culling, CWD has increased by 1 percent.

Wisconsin has shifted to a data-gathering and monitoring approach in part because of hunter complaints that aggressive culling reduced the deer herd too much.