MADISON,Wis. – The Chronic Wasting Disease Reward Program, a joint effort between Whitetails Unlimited and the Department of Natural Resources that rewards hunters and landowners for their efforts to help control CWD, is in place for its second year in the disease eradication zones this deer hunting season.

The CWD Reward Program awards $400 for each deer harvested that tests positive for CWD. The $400 is split with $200 going to the hunter who harvested the deer, and the other $200 going to the landowner from whose property the deer was taken. Whitetails Unlimited, a conservation organization dedicated to white-tailed deer and their environment, will be issuing the reward checks along with a free one-year membership to their organization as test results become available.

“Landowners and hunters continue to be the key to success in controlling CWD in the state,” said Alan Crossley, CWD Program Leader with the DNR. “We hope the CWD Reward Program provides incentive for landowners and hunters to shoot more deer in the disease eradication zones, reducing deer density and helping control the disease.”

The CWD Reward Program, which was first piloted during the 2003 deer hunting season, recognizes and rewards landowners and hunters who harvest deer to control CWD in a disease eradication zone (DEZ). The program is in effect for its second deer-hunting season, which started Sept 18, 2004, and ends Jan.3, 2005. If hunting under the authority of landowner permit, the season extends until March 31.

The reward program fund consists of $250,000 from DNR funds. Money remaining from the $250,000 after all hunters and landowners have been paid for CWD-positive deer, will be distributed in $20 increments to hunters in the DEZs that harvested deer during the season. If funds are not sufficient to cover all registered deer, a random drawing will take place. A hunter’s name will be entered into the drawing once per deer registered. If a hunter registered five deer during the season, he or she will have five chances of getting $20. The $20 checks will be distributed at the end of the hunting season when all CWD testing is complete.

“It is important to recognize both the efforts to remove CWD-positive deer from the DEZs and the importance of overall deer density reduction, which is why we award the $20 payments,” stated Pete Gerl, Executive Director of Whitetails Unlimited. “Lowering the deer density reduces the chances of CWD transmission from a sick deer to a healthy deer and is a very important tool for controlling the disease in the state.”

With landowner approval, trained DNR personnel are available to aid landowners in reducing deer numbers on their property or removing sick-looking deer. If DNR personnel harvest a CWD-positive deer, no hunter payment will be issued. However, the landowner on whose property the deer was shot will still receive $200.

Like the past two years, hunters will receive a postcard from the DNR if the deer they harvested tested negative for CWD. The DNR will contact hunters and landowners by phone if the deer tested positive. Additionally, hunters can access test results at dnr.wi.gov, under “Chronic Wasting Disease in Wisconsin.” The online results database will be updated automatically as test results are returned from the lab and hunters who harvested positive deer are properly notified. More information on CWD is available at this site as well or by calling 1-877-WISCCWD.