EDITOR’S NOTE: Three approximately 60-second sound bites from Tom Hauge, DNR chief of wildlife management, on the 10-yea. CWD management plan, are available on the DNR Web site:

MADISON – The public has an opportunity to comment on a draft plan that would guide the state’s Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) management efforts over the next 10 years. CWD was first discovered in Wisconsin in 2002.

“After six years, it is clear that there is no easy answer to managing this disease in Wisconsin,” said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank, “but we continue to believe the stakes are high and we need to do our best to try to minimize the effect of CWD in the state.”

The draft plan blends recommendations from a citizen CWD Stakeholder Advisory Group and lessons learned over the past six years since discovery of CWD in Wisconsin. The plan assesses what can realistically be done to control the disease based on the best available science.

“There are many challenges that make our goal of eliminating CWD from Wisconsin in the next 10 years unlikely,” said Alan Crossley, the CWD project leader for the DNR. “But, we’ve learned a lot and in light of our public trust responsibility for managing wildlife, we need to still effectively manage CWD regardless of the challenges.”

The goal of the plan over the next 10 years is to minimize the area of Wisconsin where CWD occurs and the number of infected deer in the state.

Advances in understanding about the ecology and epidemiology of CWD in Wisconsin have contributed significantly to guiding the department’s management actions. Yet there is no clear prescription for managing CWD.

“We will continue to learn as we go. This means we will need to continue intensive monitoring of CWD prevalence and distribution over the next 10 years and adapt based upon what we learn,” Crossley said.

The key objectives of the proposed management plan are to:

  1. Prevent new introductions of CWD
  2. Respond to new disease outbreaks
  3. Control distribution and intensity of CWD
  4. Increase public recognition and understanding of CWD Risks
  5. Address the needs of our customers
  6. Enhance the scientific information about CWD

The proposed plan includes a number of specific management and monitoring actions including:

  • Implementing the 2008 statewide hunting season structure as also the basic season structure for all units in the CWD Management Zone through 2012.
  • Issuing landowner hunting permits in the CWD Management Zone that are valid from the close of the regular hunting season until March 31.
  • Conducting focused sharpshooting on public and private lands where permission can be obtained in areas of disease clusters along the edges of the known CWD distribution.
  • Insuring hunters have the option of having their deer tested for CWD in areas with the highest prevalence of the disease.
  • Cooperating with food pantries and meat processors in the CWD Management Zone to provide hunters options for donating deer.
  • Pursuing a statewide ban on the feeding and baiting of deer to reduce the risk of transmission of CWD or other serious cervid diseases in new areas.
  • Conducting disease surveillance surveys approximately every 5 years throughout the state, outside of the CWD Management Zone, in order to detect new disease outbreaks in a timely manner.
  • Reviewing progress toward the objectives in this plan after 5 years and making modifications based on the review.

“The goal, specific objectives, and management actions established for addressing CWD were developed based on the best scientific information currently available” said Crossley. “Ultimately, this plan can only be successful when it has earned the support of our partners and the public.”

The draft CWD management plan is available on the DNR Web site. Comments can be submitted using a form available on the Web site. Those without internet access can call the DNR at 608-264-6046 to request that a hard copy of the plan and a comment form be mailed to them. The deadline for submitting comments is Dec. 13, 2008.