MADISON – Two deer have tested positive for chronic wasting disease, one each in Portage and Juneau Counties, reports the state Department of Natural Resources. These are the first positives in wild deer populations for both counties.
“Any CWD positive in a new county is noteworthy, but neither of these positives was completely unexpected,” said Kris Belling, DNR regional wildlife program manager. “We’ve been performing surveillance in Juneau County due to the proximity of the CWD management zone boundary and we’ve been sampling in Portage County for 10 years after positives were discovered on a former game farm.” The two CWD-positive deer were harvested by gun hunters on Nov. 18 and sampled by DNR staff. The Portage County positive was a 1.5-year-old doe, harvested in deer management unit (DMU) 57A, close to the Mead Wildlife Area. The central Juneau County deer was a 4-to 5-year-old buck, harvested in deer management unit DMU 54B, less than two miles from the CWD management zone boundary.
These sampling results do not change the remaining days of the late archery hunting season nor does it change the current CWD management zone boundary. Baiting and feeding of deer, as well as deer rehabilitation, is already banned in these counties.
DNR has conducted annual surveillance in Portage County since 2002, when a captive game farm in the southeast part of the county experienced CWD positives in its herd. The disease was confirmed in a second captive herd in northwest Portage County in 2008. Since 2002, 1,506 wild deer have been tested.
Juneau County was part of DNR’s “weighted” surveillance strategy, focusing on older bucks because they have a higher probability of being infected with disease. The weighted approach increases the likelihood of early detection in periphery areas outside the CWD management zone.
“We thank all hunters who have brought deer in for voluntary CWD testing,” said Belling. “This cooperation is essential for detecting and tracking the prevalence of this disease.” Sampling of deer in Juneau and Portage Counties is voluntary and will continue through the end of the late archery hunt, Jan. 6. Juneau County area bow hunters interested in having their deer sampled are encouraged to contact Jon Robaidek, local DNR biologist at 608-339-4819. Portage County area bow hunters can contact the Mead Wildlife Area office for more information on having their deer sampled, 715-457-6771. “It is too soon to draw any conclusions from these most recent positives,” said Belling. “We will process remaining samples from these counties and discuss next steps once all results are in. We will keep the public informed and involved as we learn more.” For more information on CWD in Wisconsin, and to view CWD maps, please visit dnr.wi.gov and search for “CWD.”