Editor’s Note: this is the fifth of eight biweekly columns in which the Department of Natural Resources Secretary will try to answer some of the many questions and concerns related to Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Wisconsin.

What are my disposal options as to butchered waste for animals harvested in the Intensive Harvest Zone (IHZ) and the Disease Eradication Zone (DEZ)?

Hunters have several options for disposing of butchered waste. After registering their deer:

  • The hunter can process the deer and take the butchered waste to one of four DNR-run collection stations within the DEZ for disposal. DNR collection/registration stations are located at Arena, Barneveld, Black Earth and Lone Rock.

  • The hunter can have a meat processor bone out the meat and return the butchered waste to the hunter for disposal at a DNR station in the DEZ.

  • The hunter can bone out the meat and no waste products will need to be returned by the meat processor. Again, the hunter can take the waste to a DNR station in the DEZ.
  • Bury the waste on the property where the animal was harvested with the landowner’s permission.

Can I shoot deer from a tractor in the DEZ?

A landowner, family member or employee of the landowner may use a firearm or bow to shoot deer from a farm tractor or implement of husbandry, such as a combine or hay wagon, ONLY on the landowner’s property and ONLY in the DEZ. Farm trucks and ATVs may qualify as a farming implement if they are used ONLY for agricultural operations.

I strongly recommend that anyone who can legally possess a firearm on a tractor or farm implement keep the weapon unloaded while the machinery is moving and not load or fire it until the vehicle has come to a complete stop. And remember, you must meet the blaze orange requirements during the firearm season.

Can I get more than two free buck tags for each property I own in the DEZ and what if more than one person owns title to the property?

No… landowner permits are good for all the land the permit holder owns within the DEZ. Therefore, landowners are only eligible to receive two free buck tags, regardless of the number of properties they own in the DEZ. The same is true in cases of multiple title holders. One of the title holders can apply for a landowner permit and in turn give copies of that permit to others who wish to hunt on the property. Again, only two buck tags will be issued with the permit.

Issuing two free buck tags to each qualifying landowner is a compromise between our efforts to rapidly reduce the size and reproductive potential of the deer herd in the DEZ by using earn-a-buck and satisfying landowner desire to shoot bucks on their property.

Landowners told us they wished to have the opportunity to shoot bucks and not be limited by earn-a-buck on their own land and we did not want the too liberal buck-harvesting opportunities that a conventional season would have provided.

What should I do if I see a sickly deer?

Checking sick deer for CWD is a very important part of the CWD surveillance program. If you see a sickly deer while hunting, please harvest the deer and take it to a DNR office for CWD sampling. You will be issued a replacement tag so you can continue hunting for a deer to keep. If the sighting of a sickly deer is not associated with hunting, you should contact your local DNR conservation warden or wildlife biologist. They may authorize you to kill the suspect animal or if you aren’t a hunter, they may come out and harvest the animal. If you don’t reach them, you can also contact the sheriff’s department and leave the information with the dispatcher who often can radio the conservation warden.

What’s this about a bounty for wild deer shot in the IHZ and DEZ?

Whitetails Unlimited (WTU) and the DNR, have just launched a pilot program to recognize and reward those landowners and hunters who harvest deer to control CWD within the IHZ and DEZ. A $400 reward will be given for each wild deer that tests positive for CWD, with the hunter registering the deer receiving $200 and the landowner on whose property the deer was shot getting $200.

Also, any dollars remaining in our reward fund would be paid out at $20 a deer among all hunters registering deer from the IHZ and DEZ. A random drawing will be used to distribute funds remaining after we’ve paid for all the positive animals.

What is the time frame for the reward period?

The time frame covers all the 2003-04 archery and gun seasons in the IHZ and DEZ. The archery season runs from Sept. 13 to Jan. 3 and the gun season spans Oct. 30 to Jan. 3. In a nutshell, all deer taken within the 2003-04 seasons in the IHZ and DEZ are eligible for the CWD reward program.

When will the reward payments be made?

WTU will administer the reward fund, coordinate payments and conduct the random drawing. WTU will mail reward checks for CWD positive deer as soon as they learn of the test results. This year most hunters can expect test results within several weeks of sampling.

After first paying out for the CWD positive deer, a drawing will be held at the end of the hunting seasons to randomly select hunters who will receive a $20 reward for a deer they harvested. A hunter will be entered into the drawing for each deer they remove from the IHZ and DEZ. If a hunter shoots five deer, they have five chances of their registration stub being drawn. For example, if we have $100,000 available for $20 rewards, there will be 5,000 rewards issued.

Why did DNR initiate the reward program?

A cash reward to harvest deer was the most popular suggestion we heard from landowners during a series of town hall style meetings we held last fall. Many landowners and hunters in the CWD zones have called for a financial reward to those who participate in the disease control program. Our reward program aims to recognize your efforts to help control CWD.

Roughly $200,000 of the reward fund will come from CWD operating budgets and $50,000 from an anonymous donor.

Wisconsin is working hard to manage the threat that CWD poses to the state’s deer herd, hunting traditions, tourism and the economy. Animal health scientists currently recommend culling deer from within the CWD-infected area as the first step to managing the disease. Removing CWD positive deer is especially important to reduce the severity and spread of the disease.

It is the one-two punch of focusing hunting pressure in the vicinity of known positive deer, in combination with reducing the overall population that has caused us to try this approach. Ideally we would target removal of only sick deer, but as you know, perfectly healthy-looking deer can have the disease. So the next best thing we can do is ask people to put more effort into killing deer where we have already found positives.

Yet we also want to recognize the efforts of all hunters in helping us to continue to reduce the deer population throughout the entire area. Having a lower deer density reduces transmission of CWD from sick deer to healthy deer. This is tough medicine and tough work. Landowners and hunters are relied upon to perform much of this work. We don’t have enough funding to recognize all efforts this year, yet we do want to reward the contributions of as many hunters as possible. That’s why we created the $20 per deer reward that will be paid for with funds remaining after we reward hunters and landowners for killing positive deer.