SHELL LAKE, Wis.– The Department of Natural Resources has announced that chronic wasting disease, CWD for short, was detected in a wild adult doe found on private property just west of Shell Lake in Washburn County.

Tissue samples have been confirmed as CWD-positive at both the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab and USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa. DNR received the final test results late on Friday, March 30.

The 3 1/2-year old doe was euthanized by the Washburn County Sheriff’s Office on a small parcel of private land.

In order to find out if the disease is present in other wild deer in the area, this fall DNR will begin a focused disease surveillance effort within a 10-mile radius around the positive location. “The fall archery and gun deer hunting seasons provide an excellent, cost-effective method to collect valuable samples,” said Kurt Thiede, DNR Lands Division administrator.

This is the first wild CWD-positive deer to be found in northern Wisconsin and within the Ceded Territory where the Ojibwe Tribes maintain harvest and gathering rights.

“No changes are anticipated this fall in the broad framework of the hunting seasons,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “We are reviewing today’s news with our wildlife experts and are reaching out to notify the DNR Board, tribal representatives, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and the Minnesota DNR. In addition, we have relayed this information to Dr. Kroll.”

Under state statutes, DNR is required to enact a ban on the feeding and baiting of deer in any county that is within 10 miles of any captive or free-roaming deer that tests positive for either CWD or Tb.

This CWD-positive deer is within Washburn County and may be within 10 miles of Barron, Burnett and Polk counties. DNR anticipates the ban on baiting and feeding within these counties to take effect this fall.

Thiede noted, “The location of this deer was more than 100 miles from the nearest known cases of the disease in either wild or captive deer. Our field staff will be working with local citizens, registration stations, processors and taxidermists to collect tissue samples to learn if any other sick deer exist near this case.”

In addition, the DNR will begin to implement other steps, such as collecting adult road kill deer to gather additional samples.

CWD is a nervous system disease of deer, moose, and elk. It belongs to the family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) or prion diseases. CWD occurs only in members of the cervid or deer family, both wild and captive. Current information suggests that CWD may be transmitted both directly through animal to animal contact and indirectly from a CWD-prion contaminated environment. Recent studies indicate that CWD prions exist in the saliva, urine, and feces of infected deer.

To learn more about CWD, please visit our web site at and enter the search key word CWD.

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