The Department of Natural Resources is asking Ashland and Bayfield county hunters to help with surveillance efforts to see if chronic wasting disease may be present in free-ranging, wild deer the area.

Sampling stations where hunters can bring deer for disease testing will be at the following locations on opening weekend Nov. 20 and 21.

  • Pearce’s Sausage Kitchen – 61327 Dalhstrom Road, Ashland
  • Angler’s All – 2803 Lakeshore Drive. E. Ashland
  • Woody’s Taxidermy – 1109 Vaughn Avenue, Ashland
  • Bayside Taxidermy – 1110 Lakeshore Drive, Ashland
  • Chequamegon Taxidermy – 73740 Strecker Road, Washburn
  • Brian Weber Processing – 29125 State Hwy 137, Ashland
  • Ino Bar – 19020 US Hwy 2, Ino
  • Washburn Holiday Station- 606 W. Bayfield St., Washburn

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) indicated Thursday, Nov. 11, that preliminary-positive test results on a deer removed in October from a game farm southwest of Ashland indicated possible presence of chronic wasting disease. Confirmatory testing of the tissues is underway and must be completed before DATCP officials can make a final determination. DATCP is responsible for the regulation of deer farm operations.

In order to find out if the disease has also made its way into the adjoining wild deer herd, DNR will begin a disease surveillance effort immediately and continue through the nine day deer gun season within a 10 mile radius around the city of Ashland. DNR will send staff to four big game registration stations to collect tissue samples. DNR hopes to gather samples on every adult deer registered. Department staff is also working with local meat processors, taxidermists, and car kill deer contractors to collect samples.

“While we don’t have the final test results at this time (Monday, Nov.15) we feel it’s prudent to do the surveillance based upon the preliminary information,” said Mike Zeckmeister, DNR northern region wildlife supervisor. “The upcoming deer season is really the best opportunity for local hunters to assist in rapidly and efficiently collecting these samples.”

Wisconsin wildlife officials stress that this is the first time captive herd surveillance testing suggests CWD may be present on a farm in northern Wisconsin. Two rounds of testing in wild deer since 2002 have found all wild deer healthy in northern Wisconsin to date.

In October, local conservation wardens completed a fence inspection on the farm as part of a land sale. During this inspection wardens found several breaches in the fence and indications that deer may have moved in and out of the farm.

“Wardens are continuing to inspect the fence and work with the farmer to ensure that the fence meets DNR specifications,” said Dave Zebro, DNR Northern Region conservation warden supervisor.

“The possibility that free ranging deer may have been exposed to the disease is why we feel additional local disease surveillance is very important. We’re counting on help from the hunters to get the needed samples” Zeckmeister said.

The World Health Organization stresses that there is no known link between CWD in deer and the human version of this prion disease, however, people should no eat any deer that tests positive for CWD, appears sick or is acting strangely. Officials request that people report all such deer to a DNR biologist or warden.

Hunters supplying deer tissue samples for testing will be able to track test results for their deer on the department’s website: dnr.wi.gov. Test results will take three to four weeks to be posted.