Wisconsin is entering its third year of CWD management with a ton of accomplishments behind us. We’ve sampled more than 56,000 deer in the past three years and made real progress in reducing deer populations in the CWD “core area.” We’ve simplified things by combining some of the confusing zone designations into just two: the Herd Reduction Zone (HRZ) with a population goal of less and 15 deer per square mile of deer range; and the Disease Eradication Zone (DEZ) with a population goal of less than five deer per square mile.

In 2003 Wisconsin deer hunters set archery and muzzleloader harvest records and recorded the third highest total deer harvest in Wisconsin history. I think by most any measuring stick, this was a pretty successful season and especially as it came on the heels of the state’s first year of dealing with Chronic Wasting Disease.

This year, landowners in the DEZ and hunters they designate will again be able to hunt the DEZ without buying a regular deer hunting license by requesting a DEZ landowner’s permit. These permits are now available from any license vendor.

The 56,000 deer tested for chronic wasting disease at Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, likely the largest wildlife disease surveillance effort of all time, detected 326 CWD-positive deer. This enormous accomplishment would not have been possible without the cooperation of hunters who surrendered the heads of their deer at collection stations during regular and extended fall gun deer seasons and in special summer hunts.

CWD has not been detected in the wild in any other area of the state. Details of the testing effort, down to results for individual deer management units and counties, can be searched on the DNR Web site.

This fall, there will be two CWD zones. The Disease Eradication Zone (DEZ) and a surrounding Herd Reduction Zone. Archery deer hunting begins in both zones on Sept. 18 through Jan. 3. Gun deer hunting in the HRZ is Oct. 28-31 and Nov. 20 – Jan. 3. Gun hunting in the DEZ starts on Oct. 28 and runs non-stop through Jan. 3. Both zones have Earn-a-Buck rules in place and there are no bag limits in either zone. For every antlerless deer a hunter shoots they’ll get another buck tag.

Permits and buck tags

Landowners within the disease eradication zone can apply for a landowner harvest permit and hunt on their property without buying a hunting license.

For the first time, landowner permits can be picked up from any license vendor for a $2 processing fee. Hunters with landowner permission can also hunt without buying a regular gun deer license using a CWD hunter’s permit – also available through license vendors. Landowners can invite friends, relatives or other acquaintances to hunt their lands. The only requirement is that the permit holder and anyone they invite to help must meet the legal, age and hunter safety requirements for obtaining a hunting license in Wisconsin.

Landowners will receive one buck tag with a landowner’s permit. The buck tags can be used during any open deer season in the DEZ and can be filled before first harvesting an antlerless deer. The tags are not transferable to any other hunter.

Again this year, small game and general hunting regulations are being published separately from deer hunting regulations. The deer regulations pamphlet, detailing seasons, rules, bags, and zones for CWD and non-CWD deer management units is available on the DNR Web site or in printed form at DNR Service Centers, license vendors and other locations.

Testing in 2004

The Department of Natural Resources will be collecting samples from adult deer killed in the DEZ. Fawns will not be tested except upon hunter request. Additionally, samples will be collected from adult deer killed in the HRZ in an approximate 10-mile buffer ring around the DEZ during the Oct. 28-31 portion of the gun deer hunt and again on the opening weekend of the regular gun deer season Nov. 20-28.

Baiting and Feeding

Baiting and feeding of deer is currently banned by emergency rule in 26 southern Wisconsin Counties and restricted to 2 gallons in all other areas; scents are allowed with some restrictions. Details on baiting and feeding in unaffected counties are available on the DNR Web site and in the 2004 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations.

The public will have an opportunity to comment on permanent baiting and feeding rules at hearings planned for late September with locations to be announced at a future date.

The ban includes the following counties: Adams, Calumet, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Grant, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, Lafayette, Manitowoc, Marquette, Milwaukee, Portage, Racine, Richland, Rock, Sauk, Sheboygan, Vernon, Walworth, Waukesha and Waushara.

Venison Donation

Hunters in the Disease Eradication Zone will have up to five participating meat processors where they can drop off deer that they cannot personally use. The meat processors will store the venison until CWD test results are returned then process all non-positive deer for distribution to food pantries.