MADISON, Wis. – Chronic wasting disease surveillance efforts in the southeastern portion of Wisconsin have identified three CWD-positive wild white-tailed deer harvested by hunters in the herd reduction zone (HRZ) of Walworth County, Department of Natural Resources officials report.

The DNR increased surveillance around the Walworth and Rock County positives in both the disease eradication zone (DEZ) and HRZ of southeast Wisconsin this deer hunting season to get a better sense of the geographic distribution and prevalence of CWD in this portion of the state. To date over 1200 CWD samples have been collected in Walworth County.

“Just as increased surveillance in 2002 yielded additional positives in and around the western DEZ, it will likely do the same here in the eastern DEZ of Rock and Walworth County” said Jim McNelly, Regional Wildlife Supervisor with the DNR.

Two of the three deer, one a doe and one a buck, were shot within two miles of the eastern DEZ boundary. The third deer, a 2-year-old buck, was shot in LaGrange Township, about 12 miles north of the eastern DEZ boundary and immediately adjacent to the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

“These new positives do not necessarily mean CWD is spreading, but that we are finally collecting enough samples to better describe the distribution of the disease in the southeast”, said McNelly. “It is only by looking hard and testing large numbers of deer that we are able to better understand the geographic distribution of the disease in this area.”

These new positives will not affect CWD management zone boundaries or hunting seasons for the remainder of the 2004 deer season.

“Once we have all the test results back from the sampling done this fall and winter, we will be in a better position to assess the impacts that these positive deer, and any others we may find, will have on our CWD management strategy,” said McNelly. “The more samples collected from these counties, the clearer the picture we will have of the geographic distribution of CWD in the area.

“We really appreciate the cooperation we are getting from hunters across the southern part of the state as we continue to collect samples from adult deer. The harvest of deer by hunters in this area is critical to our understanding of the disease and our efforts to eliminate it,” McNelly concluded.

More CWD information and test results are available at dnr.wi.gov, click on “Chronic Wasting Disease in Wisconsin.”