DODGEVILLE , Wis. – Landowners and Department of Natural Resources shooters killed 539 deer within the 389 square mile chronic wasting disease (CWD) Eradication Zone last week during the fourth and final week-long shooting periods this summer.

Brain and lymph tissue samples are taken from collected deer for laboratory analysis. Test results should be available in five to six weeks. Six of 262 deer taken during the first shooting period (June 8-14) and seven of 336 samples during the second shooting period (July13-19) tested positive for CWD while results from the third shooting period (Aug. 10-16) are not yet available.

The fourth shooting period ran from Sept. 7-13 and the big jump in deer registration resulted from the “many more hunters who were afield (than the previous hunts) trying to earn their buck tags for the archery and upcoming gun deer seasons,” said Tom Howard, DNR wildlife biologist at Dodgeville.

Hunters in the CWD Intensive Harvest Zone, which includes the Eradication Zone, and the surrounding CWD Management Zone must first shoot an antlerless deer before they can harvest a buck in either zone during both the archery and gun seasons.

“Now we’re busy gearing up to sample thousands of deer this fall as all deer taken during the archery and gun seasons will be sampled in the Intensive Harvest Zone, 500 deer per deer management unit in the CWD Management Zone, and roughly 500 deer per county in the rest of the state,” noted Mr. Howard.

“This level of sampling should put lots of people’s minds at ease knowing that the deer population in their areas have been thoroughly sampled for the presence of the disease in the herd,” he added.

DNR is committed to sampling about 50,000 deer from around the state beginning this fall as part of its CWD surveillance program. The ambitious testing program is designed to tell biologists with confidence whether or not the disease exists in a county. Most sampling, outside of the Intensive Harvest Zone, will take place during the Oct. 24-27 Zone T hunt and the opening weekend (Nov. 23-24) of the nine-day gun season.

All deer were shot during the summer hunts under the authority of a deer removal permit. These permits will be re-issued around Oct. 1 and landowners or their agents will be able to kill deer without a license during the gun deer season in the Eradication Zone so long as they hunt on land owned by the permit holder.

“We’re asking people to kill all the deer in the Eradication Zone so it doesn’t make much since to make them buy a license to do so,” explained Mr. Howard.

Permits will be valid from Oct. 24, 2002, through Jan. 31, 2003 to coincide with the long gun season in the Eradication Zone, which encompasses western Dane-eastern Iowa Counties and a small portion of southern Sauk County.

New permits will be mailed to all current permit holders, which now number 1,184, in time for the Oct. 24 opening day. DNR will also send a letter to those landowners in the Eradication Zone who never applied for a summer hunt permit or they can get a permit for use this fall from the CWD Operations Center located at the DNR Dodgeville Service Center, 1500 N. Johns St. or by calling 608-935-1945.

Government shooters and landowners collect about 1,500 deer during the four shooting periods and no accidents or injuries were reported. Other details of the final shooting period include: *The kill by sex was 361 females, 172 males and six unrecorded. *Landowners shot 445 deer and government shooters 94. *Sixty-three people chose to keep their deer and await CWD test results.