MADISON, Wis. — (AP) The state Department of Natural Resources has found 16 more deer with chronic wasting disease, and all were killed in the area where the state wants to try to eradicate the disease from the herd, the agency said Friday.
That is the largest weekly increase in the number of deer found with the disease that the DNR has reported as it has been trying to pinpoint how widespread the disease is in the herd.
The results bring the number of deer found with the disease to 80, and they continue to show that about 2 percent of the deer in the Mount Horeb area are inflicted with the incurable disease.
Of the diseased deer found so far, 43 were in Dane County, 35 in Iowa County, one in Richland County and one in Sauk County.
Of the 16 new cases, eight were found in Dane County and eight in Iowa County, the DNR said.
The newest findings indicate more diseased deer are being found where scientists expected, but the prevalence remains unchanged, DNR spokesman Bob Manwell said.
“It is no more widespread,” he said. “It is still in that cluster within the eradication zone that has slowly gained in numbers as more deer are tested.”
The newest report said all the deer heads — 2,010 of them — that hunters in nine counties donated for disease testing have been analyzed and none were positive. The counties are Calumet, Crawford, Door, Dunn, Green Lake, Kenosha, Monroe, Ozaukee and Pierce.
Manwell said the DNR has not yet declared those counties as free of chronic wasting disease.
Testing of deer killed in several other counties is nearly complete as well. For example, of the 623 deer heads donated in Vilas County, 622 had been tested, and none had the disease, the DNR said.
Laboratory experts analyzed during the last week another 2,574 samples of deer brains for the unprecedented study to learn how widespread the fatal brain disease might be in the state’s overpopulated whitetail herd, the agency said.
The DNR said 74 of the deer with the disease were found in the 411-square-mile area near Mount Horeb where the agency wants all deer — an estimated 30,000 — killed to try to eradicate the disease from the herd.
The other six were found in the so-called management zone nearby.
The disease, which jeopardizes the state’s $1 billion hunting industry, was discovered in near Mount Horeb in February 2002.
Until it was found in Wisconsin, the disease had never been found east of the Mississippi River.
The disease creates sponge-like holes in the deer’s brain, causing the animal to grow thin, act abnormal and die. Although there is no scientific evidence the disease can infect humans, people are advised not to eat an infected deer.
The latest batch of testing means 30,861 of the 39,912 deer samples submitted by hunters, or 71 percent of them, have been analyzed for the disease, the DNR said in its weekly update of the testing.