Madison, Wis. – A three-year-old female deer shot by a village police officer in a Fontana city park has tested positive for chronic wasting disease. The site of the kill is approximately two miles outside of Wisconsin’s current CWD herd reduction zone.
“While this is certainly disappointing, this news is not unexpected,” said Tom Hauge, director of wildlife management at the Department of Natural Resources. “We consider the Walworth County deer population to be at higher risk for having CWD.”
The Walworth County area is considered at higher risk for CWD because the disease has been confirmed in deer not far across the border in northern Illinois. There are also two quarantined captive deer farms in Walworth County, one of which had confirmed CWD-positive deer.
“We don’t know how this deer became sick,” said Hauge. “We’ll learn as much as we can from this deer and formulate a specific plan for more intensive surveillance in the area where this positive deer was found. When we get sufficient information, we’ll decide on what the next steps should be.”
The positive deer was noticed and reported to a conservation warden as sick looking on March 6 by a Fontana police officer. The conservation warden requested that the police shoot the deer. A conservation warden then picked up the carcass for sampling by the DNR and testing by the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
“We’re grateful that this deer was noticed and collected,” Hauge said. “We’ll continue to rely on folks in the area to give a local wildlife biologist or conservation warden a call about any sick-looking deer they may see. We want to test deer from that area that fit the profile for a possible CWD-sick deer.”
To date, more than 42,000 deer have been tested in Wisconsin. In 2003, hunters will be asked to provide deer for testing in selected areas of the state where wildlife managers and researchers would like to add to last year’s data. Some car killed deer and deer identified as sick looking continue to be sampled and tested.
“Thanks to efforts of hunters and citizens across the state, we had very good testing last year,” said Hauge. “Walworth County was already designated for continued surveillance this fall because of its higher risk status and to add more data to our surveillance picture. Finding this deer supports that decision. One of the things we’ll want to do soon is combine our existing surveillance data with Illinois’ to get a better picture of the intensity and likely distribution of CWD in this border area.”
This brings the number of confirmed CWD positive deer found in Wisconsin to 208. The first deer to test positive for the fatal neurological disease were reported in February 2002.