October, 2004

Ask Department of Natural Resources Secretary Scott Hassett … …about Chronic Wasting Disease in Wisconsin White-tailed Deer

Editor’s Note: this is another of several fall updates in which the DNR Secretary will try to answer some of the many questions and concerns related to Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Wisconsin wild white-tailed deer.

Is the Department again offering landowner permits in the Disease Eradication Zone (DEZ)? The DNR is again issuing permits to landowners with five or more acres of land within a DEZ. Landowner permits are not available in the Herd Reduction Zone (HRZ). Under the authority of these permits, landowners can hunt without a license (provided they meet age and safety requirements), receive one buck tag, and continue to hunt through March 31, 2005, if they choose. As has been the case the past two years, landowners can also authorize hunters to hunt on property they own within a DEZ. Authorized hunters can hunt on land covered by a landowner permit without a deer license provided they meet age and safety requirements.

DEZ landowners interested in a permit can get one at any hunting license outlet or DNR service center for a $2 processing fee. These permits are not available by phone or through the Internet. Permits will be valid through March 31, 2005. Hunters wishing to hunt under the authority of a landowner permit must first pick up a DEZ hunter permit and landowner authorization form at a hunting license vendor or DNR service center, also for a $2 processing fee.

Am I eligible to get a landowner permit if I own less than five acres in the DEZ? If you own huntable land less than five acres in size within the DEZ, you should call our toll free CWD information line (1-877-WISC-CWD) to make special arrangements to get a landowner permit.

Will the Department again be offering an incentive program in the DEZ? Yes we will. Last year, to encourage participation in herd reduction and surveillance activities, a pilot CWD Reward Program was implemented for the 2003-04 hunting season. The Whitetails Unlimited/DNR cooperative program rewarded $400 for each CWD-positive deer removed from the landscape. The $400 was split with $200 going to the landowner on whose property the deer was taken. The other $200 went to the hunter who shot the deer. A second component of the program rewarded $20 in a lottery fashion to hunters who harvested deer within the DEZ that did not test positive for CWD. Hunters were entered into the drawing for each deer they harvested. Over 10,600 – $20 checks were distributed in June, 2004.

The Department is offering the same incentive program again this fall in cooperation with Whitetails Unlimited.

Will I be able to donate deer harvested in the DEZ to a food pantry? This fall, hunters interested in donating deer harvested in the CWD DEZ can take them to five area meat processors. Hunters can take their DEZ-harvested deer for donation through March 31, 2005 to:

  • Black Earth – Black Earth Meats, 1345 Mill St.
  • Cottage Grove – Stoddard’s Country Grove Meat Market, 205 E. Cottage Grove Rd.
  • Juda – Rackow Family Sausage, N1943 Schindler Rd.
  • Lodi – Lodi Sausage & Meats, 150 S. Main St.
  • New Glarus – Hoesly Meats, 219 Industrial Dr.

Hunters wishing to donate their DEZ-harvested, field dressed deer to the DEZ venison food pantry program make take them directly to Black Earth Meats, Hoesly Meats or Lodi Sausage & Meats. Deer bound for this food pantry program need not be pre-registered as these three meat processors will register those deer as part of the CWD testing program.

Hunters who donate DEZ-harvested deer at either Stoddard’s in Cottage Grove or Rackow’s in Juda must first register their deer and have it sampled at one of six DNR staffed registration/collection stations in the DEZ before transporting it out of the CWD DEZ zone.

Hunters need to field dress and bring their deer to the meat processor or DNR registration/collection station as soon as possible so we can get a quality tissue sample for CWD testing and provide a quality venison product for the food pantry program.

All deer slated for the Deer Donation Program are tested for CWD and only deer that test negative for CWD will be distributed to cooperating pantries. It is important to know that a negative test does not absolutely guarantee the deer is totally free of CWD prions, but it is the best means currently available to detect CWD and is similar to the tests used in Europe to detect mad cow disease in cattle.

Why did the CWD Zones expand and what are their boundaries? The quick answer to this question is that testing results from last fall required that updated boundaries be used for this year. The western DEZ has been enlarged to 1352 square miles and encompasses much of Iowa County, western Dane County, southern Sauk County and small sections of Columbia, Green and Richland Counties. The southeast DEZ has also been expanded to 321 square miles and includes roughly the southeast quarter of Rock County and the southwest portion of Walworth County.

The DEZ is a landowner permit zone and extends to the nearest highway from each CWD positive deer detected. This zone has the most liberal hunting regulations, including a longer season and allowing the use of rifles in shotgun areas.

The CWD Herd Reduction Zone (HRZ) covers all or parts of 22 deer management units and 18 counties around the two DEZs. The season’s aren’t quite as long as in the DEZ and the purpose of the HRZ is to reduce deer populations low enough to reduce the chance that CWD will spread and become established outside the two DEZs.

Where are the DNR staffed registration/collection stations in the western DEZ? DNR is operating six deer registration/collection stations in the western DEZ. These stations will register and collect deer heads for CWD testing from deer harvested in the DEZ and HRZ until Jan. 3, 2005 with the following hours: Sept. 18-Oct. 27 from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Oct. 28-Nov. 19 from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; and Nov. 20-Jan. 3 from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

The six stations are at:

  • Arena – Heck’s Farm Market, 7266 STH 14, 608-576-2297
  • Barneveld – Eagle Mart Stop-N-Go, 8029 STH 151, 608-576-1948
  • Black Earth – Norslein’s Wood Works, 4738 STH 78, 608-576-1931
  • Hollandale – Countryside Lanes, 1255 CTH F, 608-576-2096
  • Lone Rock – Lower Wisconsin State Riverway (Lone Rock Unit) one mile west of Lone Rock on Hwy. 14, 608-576-1768
  • Muscoda – STH 80 Public Boat Landing, 608-576-1929

Also, Palan’s Outpost Sport Shop, STH 80 & CTH BH, south of Highland, will be registering deer from the DEZ and HRZ and collecting heads for CWD testing under a cooperative agreement with DNR.

All deer shot in the DEZ must be registered no later than 5:00 p.m. on the day after they are killed. I encourage hunters to register their deer on the day it is harvested to assure the quality of tissue samples taken for testing.

Where can I get more general information about CWD and landowner permits? If you have Internet access, the DNR Web site is a great source of information. http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/wildlife/whealth/issues/cwd/. We have also established a toll-free number you can call to get answers to CWD related questions. General CWD information, including landowner permit eligibility and hunting seasons, is provided on our information line 1-877-WISC-CWD (1-877-947-2293). The phone is staffed from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

I’ll answer more questions in my next column. Thanks for taking time to find out more about chronic wasting disease in Wisconsin.