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CWD solution looks like fewer deer in Wisconsin

December 30, 2009 at 02:40 PM

Wausau Daily Herald

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Efforts to control and eliminate chronic wasting disease in the Wisconsin deer herd are ineffective and the public may have to accept “unpalatable” methods if that goal is to be achieved, a panel of experts has concluded.

“On a fundamental level, the public will ultimately decide, for better or worse, what eventually will be done with CWD in Wisconsin” the 6-member review committee stated in a new report to the Department of Natural Resources.

“If the public is unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary in the present to prevent the disease from spreading and the outbreak from growing, then their children will have to deal with the consequences.”

The review, requested by the Natural Resources Board, was conducted by wildlife experts outside the DNR. The recommendations are to be discussed at a Jan. 6 subcommittee meeting of the board.

Panel members included Dale Garner, wildlife bureau chief for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources; Damien Joly, associate director, Wildlife Conservation Society; Daniel O’Brien, wildlife disease specialist, Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Markus J. Peterson, Texas A&M University
department of wildlife and fisheries sciences; Margo J. Pybus, wildlife disease specialist, Alberta Fish and Wildlife Division; and Sharon Dunwoody, professor, UW-Madison school of journalism and mass communication.

Current DNR strategy is vague and little more than a CWD monitoring program that ultimately does little to reduce deer numbers, which is necessary to curtail future disease transmission, the committee found.

CWD is spread through communal exposure of infected deer and through an environment contaminated by the presence of infected deer.

To prevent the spread of disease outside an already contaminated area, “it is likely to be more important to decrease deer densities outside” the disease zone, the report states.

Thus, “there may be adequate justification for expanding earn-a-buck to the entire southern half of the state,” it suggests, noting the region south of a line from Green Bay through Eau Claire and the Minnesota border is at least 20 percent above deer population goals and that “deer density reductions in that area would be expected to help slow or prevent the geographic spread of CWD to the north.”

Faced with an angry hunting public that strongly opposes earn-a-buck regulations and believes the state’s current deer population is too low, the DNR is expected to approach the report’s recommendations with caution.

While acknowledging hunter unrest, the panel stated: “The public in areas outside the (disease zone) cannot be allowed to persist in the mistaken belief that CWD is not their problem.

“This misconception creates the perfect circumstances for CWD to spread and become an even more onerous problem than it already is, which is difficult to imagine.”

The panel observed, “One could argue that recreational hunting and effective CWD management are incompatible goals.

“For this reason, if no other, the WDNR needs to know whether there is support not only among different groups of hunters and landowners, but also among the public at large for management approaches that could dramatically reduce deer density.”

Potentially potent but controversial approaches include a year-round deer hunting season in designated disease areas with no bag limits, pursuit with dogs, nighttime sharpshooting, winter sharpshooting over bait, snaring, trapping, helicopter gunning and DNR access to private land.

However, DNR “may learn via a new survey that the public will not support any approach that would have any reasonable chance of reducing deer densities” in the disease zone, the panelists acknowledged.

If the public decides it is more important to have an abundance of deer rather than a disease-free deer herd, the report warns, ” it will not be WDNR who have failed as stewards of the resource but the people of Wisconsin.”

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

What?  No comments from us boys down here in Illinois?
If these experts are correct, then how Wisconsin acts will eventually affect us…for better or worse.  Illinois should not wait as Wisconsin hunters and resource professional scream at each other.  If the answer to eradication of CWD is to eradicate the deer in affected areas, then Illinois needs to get on with it now in the Illinois counties where CWD is present.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/31 at 09:52 AM

I have land to hunt in Wisconsin but have passed on going there the last 3 years due to no deer in the area.  The land is located in Juneau County where the deer population has been really reduced.  I understand CWD is a problem, however, in order to counter it you need to target the contaminated areas.  The only way to do that is to test the deer that are harvested to decrease the spread.  I’m not sure if enough testing is being done.  It seems irresponsible to permit the overharvesting of deer that are not contaiminated.  For me it looks like it will be a long time before I hunt my land again…the deer just aren’t there….with no deer I don’t see how CWD can spread, and I don’t see the need to kill off the few deer have been lucky enough to survive.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/05 at 12:57 PM

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