'Mad Deer' Eradication Zone
Widens - 25,000 Deer To Be Shot

By Bob Riepenhoff
Outdoor Editor
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The fourth special landowner deer shooting period in the chronic wasting disease eradication zone near Mount Horeb is set to begin Saturday and run through Sept. 13.
The Department of Natural Resources wants to kill all deer - about 25,000 animals - inside the 374-square-mile area of Dane, Iowa and Sauk counties.
During previous one-week chronic wasting disease (CWD) shoots held in June, July and August, landowners with special permits, their proxies or DNR sharpshooters killed a total of 954 deer.
DNR officials expect the bulk of the deer to be killed during expanded hunting seasons to be held in and around the eradication zone this fall. Specifics of the expanded hunts are detailed in the "2002 Wisconsin Regulations Related to Chronic Wasting Disease" pamphlet now available at DNR service centers and license outlets.
So far, a total of 31 deer, including three bucks shot during last fall's gun deer season, have tested positive for the disease - all inside the eradication zone. Test results were not yet available from the August shoots.
Meanwhile, in a move demonstrating some grass-roots resentment with the the DNR's handing of the disease outbreak, landowners representing more than a quarter of the property inside the eradication zone announced last week that they are refusing to kill deer or allow state sharpshooters to kill deer on their property.
Petitions passed
Owners of more than 63,000 acres in the eradication zone have signed petitions against participating in the DNR's plan to kill all deer in the zone.
DNR officials have said that, without the help of both hunters and landowners, it may not be possible to control the spread of the fatal deer disease.
But David Mandell, a member of the steering committee of Citizens Against Irrational Slaughter, one of two groups circulating the petitions, said: "We just don't think the radical approach they're doing at this time is appropriate with the limited information we have on the extent of disease in the state."
Also last week, Gov. Scott McCallum criticized federal officials for being slow to respond to Wisconsin's crisis with the disease and for dragging their feet in approving a quick test for CWD.
In a sharply-worded letter to Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, McCallum called for the the agriculture department to allow private laboratories to test for the disease.
"Quite frankly, it's way past time for USDA to get off the dime and approve a rapid test for (chronic wasting disease) and to dramatically accelerate the certification process for private labs," McCallum wrote.
Availability of testing for CWD this fall, so that people can be assured of the safety of their venison, will likely be a crucial factor in determining how many hunters will participate. The clock is ticking because the first of the deer hunting seasons, the archery season, begins Sept. 14.
Feed questioned
On another front, the plight of Wisconsin's deer is receiving national attention, at least from the media.
A story in the September issue of "Outdoor Life" magazine speculates as to whether chronic wasting disease could have inadvertently been introduced to Wisconsin deer through contaminated feed provided by hunters in their quest to grow trophy bucks.
About a dozen years ago, the magazine reports, a group of deer hunters who together owned hundreds of overlapping acres in the Town of Vermont, about 20 miles west of Madison, decided to manage their lands for trophy bucks.
The first three bucks that tested positive for CWD "were taken smack in the middle of these lands being managed for trophy bucks," and 11 later confirmed cases were killed "right on or around" the lands, the magazine says.
During the late 1980s, the magazine reports, Wisconsin deer in the CWD area were very likely fed protein and bonemeal from rendered ruminants, including cattle, sheep and deer.
The Food and Drug Administration considers the feeding of animal by-products to be capable of spreading transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, including CWD, and in 1997 passed regulations essentially prohibiting the feeding of by-products from rendered ruminants back to these same animals.
However, Tom Hauge, chief of wildlife management for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and other Wisconsin DNR officials don't think that the feeding-infection scenario is very credible, the magazine says.
This Article Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Sept. 1, 2002.


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