A Walworth County deer farmer whose farm was found last week to contain a deer infected with chronic wasting disease tried to secretly sell a deer to another farmer, despite a quarantine, according to a search warrant filed Tuesday in Dane County Circuit Court.
State Department of Natural Resources wardens searched James Hirschboeck’s rural Eagle deer farm Friday. They were looking for evidence that Hirschboeck had possessed or sold deer without a deer farm license.
The search was part of an effort by the DNR and the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to trace the movements of deer from one game farm to another as they investigate the spread of CWD in Wisconsin.
Last week, it was announced that one of four deer shot by authorities at Hirschboeck’s farm tested positive for CWD. The farm has been quarantined since Sept. 20 after several deer there appeared to be in poor health. It is one of four private deer farms in Wisconsin to be quarantined.
According to the search warrant, Helenville deer farmer Michael Bischel told a DNR warden that Hirschboeck called him several times in the past few weeks and tried to sell him a large breeder buck.
Bischel said Hirschboeck last week outlined a plan to subvert the quarantine by sawing off the buck’s horns so that DNR wardens wouldn’t recognize it at Bischel’s farm. He also offered to give Bischel a different set of horns in case wardens asked about their whereabouts.
The warrant also alleges Hirschboeck sold six deer to Bischel in January without providing receipts, live deer shipping tags or documentation of the sale. Deer sold on other occasions in 2000 and 2001 also were not reported to DNR, according to the warrant.
There was no telephone listing for Hirschboeck. He could not be reached for comment.
Agriculture Department spokeswoman Lisa Hull said that once a deer farm is quarantined, deer are not supposed to be moved from that area. If a diseased animal is found at a deer farm, she said, it is possible that the whole herd there could be killed – although that has not happened at Hirschboeck’s farm or at a Portage County deer farm where another infected deer was found.
DNR warden Karl Brooks said no citations have been issued against Hirschboeck. He faces a possible $1,033 fine per violation for possessing or selling deer without a license, Brooks said.