Tough new rule regulating deer and elk farmers becomes law

MADISON — The secretaries of the state departments of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Rod Nilsestuen, and Natural Resources, Scott Hassett, today pledged close cooperation of their agencies in monitoring deer health as the DNR transfers jurisdiction over farm-raised whitetail deer to the ag department. A letter of agreement and a report on the state of the state’s more the 600 whitetail deer farms aim to smooth the transition.

“We understand that government works most efficiently when we work together – an important priority for Governor Doyle’s administration – providing service, getting results without tax increases,” said Nilsestuen.

“As chronic wasting disease and other disease issues present challenges to our hunting and business heritage, our mutual interests involving deer farms and wild deer will continue,” said Hassett.

As part of the transition process, the Department of Natural resources provided DATCP with a report detailing the condition of Wisconsin deer farms (portable document format (PDF) file — Adobe Acrobat Reader is needed to view and print .pdf files. To download Adobe Acrobat for free, please see the DNR Download Page.) at the time of transfer.

“The audit process revealed that the majority of deer farms were in compliance with requirements while under DNR control,” said Hassett.

Wardens documented the deer populations, transactions and fence integrity at 623 whitetail deer farms in Wisconsin, according to the report.

“More than 200 wardens and support personnel put in more than 16,000 hours to complete the inspections and interviews,” said Hassett. “In some cases, wardens spent days inspecting and interviewing the owners of some of the larger whitetail deer farms in the state.”

Nilsestuen said DATCP anticipates continued cooperation from the state’s deer farmers as new rules regulating deer and elk farmers become law sometime around June 1.

Highlights of the new rule include:

Tighter controls on animal movement — By 2008, deer farmers will not be able to move live animals unless they have enrolled their herd in a CWD monitoring program and have remained enrolled for five years. Enrollment begins this year. Mandatory CWD testing — Every farm-raised deer that dies at 16 months or older must be tested for CWD, regardless of whether the heard is enrolled in the monitoring program and regardless of how the farmer disposes of the carcass. 48-hours to report escapes — Farmers must report all escapes of farm-raised deer to DATCP within 48 hours. Animals moved by DNR no longer exempt — The new rule applies to wild cervids imported by the DNR for reintroduction, and removes the exemption for deer moved under DNR control. “These new regulations ensure the future health of the state’s livestock industry,” said Nilsestuen. “Animal agriculture accounts for almost three-quarters of the state’s total farm income. Animal health is one of my top priorities. We stand ready to help DNR with deer health investigations.”

“We believe the best use of personnel resources and expertise occurs when both of our agencies can work together as closely as possible, exchange vital information, and find solutions that will be in the best interests of everyone,” said DNR Secretary Scott Hassett.