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Energy & Environment

Public can weigh in on WI efforts to tackle Chronic Wasting Disease

White-tailed deer buck with velvet antlers
Tony Campbell
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Adobe Stock
Cases of chronic wasting disease among Wisconsin's deer population increased to a 20-year high of nearly 1,600 animals in 2020

MADISON, Wis. - The Department of Natural Resources wants Wisconsinites to weigh in on its efforts to address chronic wasting disease.

The always-fatal disease that affects the brains of some deer, elk and moose appeared in Wisconsin for the first time nearly 20 years ago. Since then, said Tom Hauge, who chairs the wildlife working group for the environmental advocacy group Wisconsin's Green Fire, cases of CWD have increased from about 200 in 2002 to an all-time high of nearly 1,600 last year.

"What we have seen is a steady increase in the distribution of the disease in the state," he said, "as well as the number of deer who are positive for chronic wasting disease."

The DNR will host a virtual public meeting at 9 a.m. Friday as an opportunity to offer feedback on the state's efforts to address CWD. A link to register for the session is on the DNR's website.

Wisconsin wrapped up its nine-day gun deer-hunting season last week. Part of the DNR's monitoring effort for CWD is urging hunters to submit samples to the department before consuming venison. Public health officials have recommended against eating deer meat that has tested positive for CWD.

Amanda Kamps, a DNR wildlife health conservation specialist, said the number of CWD infections may change as those tests roll in.

"We're still collecting all the samples and getting them entered into our database, getting them sent in for testing," she said. "We're still looking at getting a lot of test results in from the nine-day gun deer season."

So far this year, the DNR has diagnosed nearly 500 cases of chronic wasting disease in wild deer.

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