Mad Deer Disease In Nine
More Wisconsin Wild Deer

By Marcella S. Kreiter

MILWAUKEE (UPI) -- Wisconsin conservation wardens Friday fanned out across the state to inspect white-tailed deer farms after chronic wasting disease turned up on a second game farm and in nine more wild deer.
So far, 40 wild and one captive deer in an area west of Madison have tested positive for CWD, which is similar to scrapie in sheep, mad cow in cattle and Creutzfeld-Jakob disease in humans. All are believed caused by rogue proteins called prions that eat holes in the brain. It is unclear whether CWD, which is fatal to deer and elk, can be passed on to humans who eat the meat of infected animals.
Game wardens plan to inspect 590 deer farms before the end of the year to make sure fences are intact to keep deer from escaping and possibly spreading the disease.
Wisconsin is the first state east of the Mississippi River to find the disease, which is believed to have been spread through the purchase of infected animals from out-of-state. State officials first discovered the disease Feb. 28 near Mount Horeb.
State inspectors have quarantined a deer farm where CWD was confirmed and discussions are under way on whether to destroy the entire herd. The Agriculture Department policy is to destroy the herd even if only one animal tests positive. Three other farms also are under quarantine.
Deer farm owners have accused the Department of Natural Resources of using heavy-handed tactics in their pursuit of CWD, saying armed game wardens conducted basement to attic searches without a warrant for records that might link a farm's animals to an infected deer shot at a Portage County farm Sept. 4.
The nine wild deer testing positive for the disease were killed in a special hunt in August during which 358 deer were harvested and tested.
Wisconsin hopes to kill off 25,000 deer in 411 square miles in parts of Dane, Iowa and Sauk counties in a bid to wipe out the disease.
As many as 200,000 Wisconsin deer taken by hunters are expected to be tested this fall at a cost of $50 to $75 per test. Hunters can either extract brain tissue themselves or have a veterinarian do it. The samples then will be sent to a federal lab for testing, which will take as long as six months.
Fear of CWD has reduced the number of hunting licenses purchased in the state by about 20 percent.
In Minnesota, 150 veterinarians at 98 clinics have offered to collect brain tissue from hunter-killed deer to have it tested for CWD. The samples are to be sent for analysis to the University of Minnesota's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in St. Paul.
Indiana officials announced their first CWD testing program, saying 1,100 deer killed by hunters would be tested this fall and specimens from 2,000 more will be preserved for later testing if necessary. The program is expected to cost $300,000.
CWD was discovered in Colorado about 35 years ago and also has been detected in Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.
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