State officials have released a Wausau-area deer farm from quarantine after bucks tested negative for chronic wasting disease.
Breezy Hill Whitetailsof rural Wausau was released from quarantine this week after the tests came back negative on two yearling bucks from the farm, according to Donna Gilson, spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. “They kept (the two bucks) isolated from the rest of their herd, and volunteered them to be killed off,” Gilson said. “We have no suggestion at all of chronic wasting disease on the farm.”
Established in 2001 as a breeding preserve, the farm is owned by Rebecca Sonnetag of Marathon City. Breezy Hill has 58 whitetails penned on nine acres of land, according to farm manager Rod Haehlke.
Breezy Hills was quarantined on Oct. 23 after the Department of Natural Resources learned Sonnetag had purchased the two bucks from Stan Hall, owner of Buckhorn Flats in the town of Almond. Buckhorn Flats was the first deer farm quarantined in Wisconsin on suspicion of having deer with the fatal brain disorder that causes deer to emaciate and die.
“We bought two buck fawns from Stan Hall in February, and when this whole thing with CWD came up, nobody could give us the answers,” Haehlke said. “So we killed all ties with Stan and had the deer killed. It was the only way to clear our farm. Nobody told us to shoot them, we did this on our own.”
Haehlke added that the quarantine has been damaging to the farm’s business and reputation. “I’ve been approached by so many people who wanted to know when we were going to shoot our deer,” he said. “We want to get our reputation back. We’re just starting out and we’re trying to get top genetics.”
Gilson said Friday that a quarantine does not mean that CWD has been found on a deer or elk farm, but that state officials will prevent that farm from moving any animals pending further investigation.
Five deer farms remain quarantined around the state, including Buckhorn Flats and the Deep Woods Deer and Elk Preserve in the town of Grant. Gilson said Friday she has not been told of any new quarantine requests pending from the DNR, although the agency continues to audit the records of every deer farm in the state.