A wild deer was discovered with chronic wasting disease for the first time outside a 411-square-mile zone west of Madison, a newspaper reported.
A 3-year-old buck shot in Grant County in southwestern Wisconsin during the nine-day hunting season that ended Sunday tested positive for the fatal disease, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in today’s editions.
The Wisconsin Viral Research Group in Wauwatosa is conducting the lab work for test kits marketed to hunters through sporting goods stores.
Tom Hauge, a Department of Natural Resource wildlife administrator, told the newspaper he was not surprised by the lab’s discovery.
“If there is an expectation that there is more CWD out there, I wouldn’t be surprised to find it in that part of the state,” Hauge said.
Grant County borders Iowa County, part of which is included in the DNR’s 411-square-mile eradication zone, where it wants all the deer killed in an effort to try to eradicate the disease from the herd. So far, 41 wild deer have tested positive within the zone.
The private lab is using technology that is not approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It has tested about 300 samples out of about 600, with only the one positive result.
The lab’s founder, Konstance Knox, defended the accuracy of the company’s testing technology, which she said is under review by the USDA. The lab will use a different, approved procedure to check the results.
Knox’s lab was hired by Wildlife Support Services of Hayward, which sold about 10,000 kits to Wisconsin sporting goods stores.
DNR Secretary Darrell Bazzell said this morning that the department cannot base any deer management decisions on the lab’s findings until they are verified by state tests.
“We need to validate the findings and evaluate our findings in that area. We can’t make decisions based on this data,” Bazzell told The Capital Times.
Similarly, Hauge told The Associated Press that “where we are right now is that we need to sit back and let all of the test results get in. We are not going to charge out and start killing deer in other places.”
The DNR would plan to wipe out local deer populations if the disease is found only in pockets and not widespread through the herd, Hauge said.
Chronic wasting disease creates sponge-like holes in the deer’s brain, causing the animal to grow thin, act abnormally and then die. There is no cure.