MADISON – Adult deer harvested in the zones established around the areas of south central and southeastern Wisconsin where chronic wasting disease has been found in white-tailed deer will be tested for the disease in 2005 and state wildlife officials will also conduct intensive disease surveillance testing in northeast Wisconsin.

Lists of collection stations where hunters can bring deer for chronic wasting disease (CWD) testing are available on the Department of Natural Resources Web site and at DNR Service Centers.

“We will continue disease-monitoring in and around the two (eastern and western) Disease Eradication Zones (DEZ) and CWD-positive deer farms,” said Alan Crossley, DNR wildlife biologist in charge of CWD management. “Also, our wildlife health experts say that it is time to resume CWD surveillance testing in other areas of the state. We haven’t done this on a large scale since the 2002 season when we tested deer for CWD in every county.”

This year, the DNR’s 16-county northeast region is scheduled for CWD surveillance, said Tom Bahti, DNR Northeast Region wildlife supervisor

“We’re asking hunters to bring in the deer they shoot for CWD testing. Extensive sampling in 2002 did not find the disease in the region but we must continue to monitor the herd on a recurring basis,” Bahti said.

State wildlife health specialists say it is important that Wisconsin stays vigilant for any spread of CWD by looking for the disease outside of established zones. The department plans to swing around the state in a three-year cycle, beginning in the northeast this season. Surveillance will also take place in areas considered “high risk” for CWD due to proximity of known CWD-positive captive animals.

“In a wild population, early detection of any disease offers the best chances for stopping it, whether it’s tuberculosis, CWD or something else,” says DNR veterinarian, Dr. Simon Hollamby. “You may recall that routine surveillance testing for wildlife disease was how we found CWD in southern Wisconsin.”

Hunter Service Testing Program Testing services are available on a limited basis for hunters outside of CWD management zones or surveillance areas.

The Hunter Service Testing Program is a cooperative effort between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association, Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the United States Department of Agriculture.

This program is designed to provide hunters from many areas of the state the opportunity to have their deer tested for CWD. The program is built upon a network of private veterinary practitioners who are trained and approved to extract samples for CWD testing. Each participating veterinarian will determine the fee that they will charge the hunter for sampling services and testing costs.

Samples will be extracted from registered deer at each participating clinic and sent to a USDA certified laboratory for testing. Results will be returned to the veterinarian who submitted the sample and shared with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Each participating veterinarian will decide when they will begin accepting requests for sampling and testing.

A list of participating veterinarians is available on the DNR Web site or from DNR service centers.

“Continued surveillance is key to the management of this disease,” says Crossley. “Landowners and hunters have made measurable progress out there but it is still too early to predict whether or not Wisconsin’s CWD management program will be successful in eradicating CWD from the state. There is still a lot of work to be done and that work is important to all of Wisconsin. CWD is a statewide issue that poses a significant threat to our deer herd and it’s going to take a long term commitment if we are going to be successful in controlling it.

“I’d like to thank the landowners and hunters who continue to work at reducing deer numbers in the affected areas and to wish everyone a safe hunt in 2005.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Alan Crossley – (608) 275-3242