MADISON – State wildlife officials will again be sampling and testing hunter-harvested white-tailed deer this fall for chronic wasting disease (CWD). The sampling will be conducted primarily in the disease management zone of southern Wisconsin.

“Our goal is to monitor trends in disease prevalence and distribution patterns within the western monitoring area of western Dane and eastern Iowa counties and the eastern monitoring area in Rock and Walworth counties,” said Davin Lopez, CWD project leader for the Department of Natural Resources.

To that end, mandatory sampling of adult deer will take place in the western and eastern monitoring areas, and within an 84 square-mile area that encompasses Devil’s Lake State Park “where monitoring disease patterns is important to understanding disease dynamics,” noted Lopez.

Active surveillance using solicited but voluntary sampling will also be conducted along the northernmost known periphery of the disease in parts of Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Grant, Richland and Sauk counties.

Other surveillance goals include monitoring where and how many deer test positive for CWD at the edges of the known infected areas and at the borders of the CWD-Management Zone (CWD-MZ).

Besides the three locations where testing of adult deer is mandatory, DNR will focus sampling on the north and northwest quadrants of the CWD-MZ as part of its strategy to monitor along the disease periphery. DMU’s where hunters will be asked to submit deer for testing from selected townships include 73E-CWD, 71-CWD, 54B-CWD, 70-CWD, 70B-CWD, 70E-CWD, 70G-CWD and 76-CWD (link to DNR’s web site).

Areas outside the CWD management zone are not scheduled for widespread CWD surveillance in 2009. Biologists and wildlife health officials will test car-killed deer and hunter-killed deer in a few small areas of Portage and Crawford counties near game farms that have had CWD positive deer in their herds. Testing of hunter-killed deer in these areas will be voluntary and locations of registration stations taking samples will be identified closer to the hunting season.

The CWD-MZ (pdf) covers all or parts of 18 counties and 22 deer management units (DMU) in southern Wisconsin.

Surveillance a Key Management Tool
Surveillance – the sampling and testing of deer – is one of the key components of DNR’s disease management strategy, according to agency biologists and researchers.

Wildlife biologists will also be asking for hunters to submit deer for sampling from an area around two deer farms outside of the CWD-MZ in Crawford and Portage Counties where positive captive deer have been found in the past.

Overall, DNR is planning to sample 8,250 adult deer in 2009. Through July 15, 2009, almost 152,000 free-ranging deer in Wisconsin have been analyzed for CWD with 1,173 testing positive for the disease. All positive deer were from within the current CWD-MZ.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Davin Lopez, CWD Project Leader, Madison: 608-267-2948; Greg Matthews: (608)275-3317