Testing will begin with archery season opener Sept. 13

DODGEVILLE, Wis. – Beginning with the opening of the archery deer season Sept. 13 and running through the gun deer hunting seasons, hunters who harvest white-tailed deer in the 964-square-mile zone where state officials are trying to eradicate chronic wasting disease (CWD) will be able to have the deer tested for the disease.

Outside of that zone, officials will not be testing deer for CWD during the archery season. During the opening weekend of the traditional nine-day deer season Nov. 22-23, adult deer will be tested in counties where officials were not able to obtain enough samples last fall and from areas where captive deer or elk have tested positive for CWD. The Department of Natural Resources will publicize those sampling locations prior to the nine-day season.

DNR officials will test any deer kept by hunters who harvest a whitetail by gun or bow in the CWD Intensive Harvest and Disease Eradication zones. The Disease Eradication Zone (DEZ) is established along section lines 4.5 miles out from where each CWD positive deer has been found. The Intensive Harvest Zone (IHZ) boundary corresponds to major highways immediately surrounding the DEZ and serves as a hunting season boundary that closely corresponds to the DEZ. The IHZ encompasses much of Iowa County, western Dane County, southern Sauk County and small sections of Columbia, Green and Richland counties. The two zones were expanded after six deer harvested last year outside but near the former 411 square mile DEZ tested positive for CWD.

“We will test any deer being kept by a hunter if requested. We will test all adult deer carcasses turned over to DNR for disposal, but we will not test fawns unless asked by the hunter,” said Tom Howard, DNR wildlife biologist based at Dodgeville who will oversee the agency’s daily registration and collection activities in the CWD zones.

Earn-a-buck requirements will again be in place in all CWD Zones, including the much larger Herd Reduction Zone (HRZ), another hunting season boundary that surrounds the IHZ, so hunters must first shoot an antlerless deer before they can harvest a buck during the archery and gun seasons.

Howard said wildlife officials are “particularly interested” in testing adult deer from the higher CWD prevalence core area of western Dane and eastern Iowa counties “to help increase our understanding of CWD and measure the success of our CWD control efforts.”

Sampling will take place in the IHZ and DEZ during the entire deer hunting seasons, which run from Sept. 13 through Jan. 3.

DNR will operate four deer registration/collection stations in the IHZ. Those stations will register and collect heads for CWD testing from deer harvested in the IHZ and DEZ. Hours will run from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., subject to change later this fall as day length shortens.

Hunters who wish to have their IHZ deer tested or disposed of must bring their animals to one of the following IHZ/DEZ deer registration sites:

Arena – Heck’s Farm Market, 7266 STH 14, (608) 225-4905

Barneveld – Eagle Mart Stop-N-Go, 8029 STH 151, (608) 220-8742

Black Earth – Norslein’s Wood Works, 4738 STH 78, (608) 220-7057

Lone Rock – Lower Wisconsin State Riverway, Lone Rock Unit, one mile west of Lone Rock on STH 14, (608) 220-3474

All deer shot in the IHZ/DEZ must be registered at one of these four collection stations no later than 5 p.m. on the day after it was killed. Howard said he encourages hunters to register their deer on the day it is harvested to assure the quality of tissue samples taken for testing.

Also, hunters who plan to keep their deer but aren’t interested in having it tested may register deer from Sept. 13 through Jan. 3 at the following sites:

Highland – Bootlegger’s, 545 N. Main, (608) 929-4814

Muscoda – Muscoda Mini-Mart, 102 N. Wisconsin Ave., (608) 739-3733

Plain – I-Diehl Tap, 400 Main St., (608) 546-2323

Sauk City – Ace Hardware, 500 Water St., (608) 643-2433

Landowners in the DEZ will again be eligible this fall to receive free permits allowing them or their agents, friends, neighbors, family etc. to hunt deer on their property without a license. Permit holders and their agents will need to meet the legal, age and hunter safety requirements for obtaining a hunting license in Wisconsin.

This fall, pointed out Howard, “we will give two free buck tags with each free landowner permit in the DEZ. These buck permits will allow the shooting of two bucks under the authority of the landowner permit without first having to shoot antlerless deer.”

The wildlife biologist added that “early feedback from DEZ landowners has been very positive towards the free buck tags.”

Most landowners in the DEZ should have received a letter from DNR advising them on how to apply for the free landowner permits. DEZ landowners who haven’t got a letter or are interested in more details can call DNR’s Dodgeville Service Center at (608) 935-1945.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Howard, Wildlife Biologist, Dodgeville: (608) 935-1918 or Greg Matthews, Regional Public Affairs Manager, Fitchburg: (608) 275-3317