State wildlife officials collected more than 22,000 deer head samples for its Chronic Wasting Disease deer herd health assessment over opening weekend of the Gun Deer Season. Added to samples taken during summer shooting periods and Zone T season, DNR now has about 32,000 samples in hand.

According to veterinarian and CWD sampling coordinator Julia Langenberg, “We did very well in collecting heads in many parts of the state. All our processing centers are performing well, and we expect to have samples to the lab on schedule by mid-week.”

The agency had more than 1,200 volunteers afield on opening weekend to collect head samples offered voluntarily by hunters. Most collection stations shut down Sunday evening. Samples will be used to map out where CWD is and is not in Wisconsin’s wild deer herd. Some deer sampled are also being assessed for other disease problems like Bovine Tuberculosis.

Sample collection was less than hoped in some counties, particularly in southeast Wisconsin, so plans are being made to keep some collection stations open additional days during the gun deer season. In addition, hunters wishing to make the drive can donate samples (no matter where they are taken in the state) at any of the three Intensive Harvest Zone collection sites in Black Earth, Arena and Barneveld. Deer must be registered, however, before being brought into the Intensive Harvest Zone. In a few other areas of the state, some stations may remain open another day or two early this week.

Langenberg said the agency is still gaining meaningful information even from areas where fewer than target samples were collected. “We will look at test results and in cases where samples were less than goal, we will define the confidence limits and figure out what the data can tell us,” Langenberg said. “Overall, I am very pleased by the wealth of information we have in our hands. We are very grateful to hunters who helped us out by donating their deer’s head,” she said.

Optimum sampling called for DNR to collect this fall and winter 500 deer in each of most counties or 500 deer in some grouped counties where deer harvest is traditionally lower. In addition, DNR hoped to collect 500 deer in each deer management unit surrounding the CWD Intensive Harvest Zone and all deer in the zone. DNR staff will continue collecting samples in the Intensive Harvest Zone — where the agency had planned to collect the largest number of samples — though Jan. 31, and perhaps longer.

DNR also expects additional samples to be submitted by cooperating agencies such as the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Agency, which indicated in would submit more than 300 samples to the herd assessment effort.

According to Dave Evenson, acting statewide bear and deer ecologist, “I would say that of the 18 counties in Northern Region, all will meet or come close to goal except Taylor, Langlade, Polk and Barron, and these are the counties where we didn’t get a jump start from Zone T, nor much Chippewa harvest.”

DNR said it would look at options to secure additional samples in areas where counts are low, such as using car-killed deer samples, and deer taken by sharpshooters or on agricultural damage permits.

Preliminary county head collection totals from Nov 23-24.

(Includes Zone T collections if applicable)

County Preliminary head collection Adams 644 Ashland** 312 Barron 320 Bayfield 428 Brown** 114 Buffalo 420 Burnett 470 Calumet** 68 Chippewa 225 Clark 409 Columbia* ** 490 Crawford 205 Dane* 214 Dodge* 144 Door** 420 Douglas 369 Dunn/Pepin 356 Eau Claire 153 Florence** 223 Fond du Lac** 128 Forest** 158 Grant* 445 Green* ** 259 Green Lake 274 Iowa* 732 Iron** 243 Jackson 425 Jefferson* ** 224 Juneau 359 Kenosha** 14 Kewaunee** 197 La Crosse 291 Lafayette* 279 Langlade 374 Lincoln 460 Manitowoc** 731 Marathon 56 Marinette 638 Marquette** 384 Monroe 452 Oconto 570 Oneida 611 Outagamie** 285 Pepin/Dunn See Dunn/Pepin Pierce/St. Croix See St. Croix/Pierce Polk 328 Portage 499 Price 461 Racine** 7 Richland* 322 Rock* ** 201 Rusk 442 Sauk* 1008 Sawyer 548 Shawano 639 Sheboygan 100 St. Croix/Pierce 243 Taylor 275 Trempealeau 262 Vernon 264 Vilas 570 Walworth** 47 Washburn 551 Washington 65 Waukesha** 19 Waupaca 578 Waushara 488 Winnebago** 178 Wood 575 Grand Total 23,243

* Disclaimer: These are preliminary counts based on a morning call-in; they are expected to change. Reports from counties with an asterisk do not include the Zone T totals; all other counties include Zone T totals.

** Some counties will be grouped together for surveillance purposes to reach the 500 total. Those counties are noted with double asterisks above and are listed by grouping below.

Counties Grouped for Sampling* Rock, Walworth, Jefferson 472 Kenosha, Racine, Milwaukee, Waukesha 40 Ozaukee, Washington, Dodge 209 Fond du Lac, Green 387 Marquette, Columbia 874 Winnebago, Outagamie 463 Brown, Calumet, Manitowoc 913 Door, Kewaunee 617 Forest, Florence 381 Ashland, Iron 555 St. Croix, Pierce, Dunn, Pepin 499 Richland, Crawford 527 Langlade, Menominee 374

*These are counties have been grouped together for the CWD surveillance survey. These samples are included in the grand total above.

Intensive Harvest Zone Arena 211 Barneveld 553 Black Earth 289 Total 1053