There were 1,060 white-tailed deer that tested positive for chronic wasting disease in Wisconsin during the 2018 surveillance year, which ran from April 1 through March 31. This compares to 597 that tested positive during the 2017 surveillance year; however state wildlife heath officials say the number of deer tested in 2018 was double that of 2017.
More than 17,200 deer were sampled and tested for CWD statewide in 2018, compared to 9,841 in 2017. Most of the positive detections were primarily within the endemic area in southern Wisconsin, but also a new positive detected in Marquette County, and additional positive detections in already CWD-affected counties including Eau Claire, Lincoln, Portage, Adams, Juneau, Vernon, Crawford and Dodge counties.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has monitored trends in CWD distribution and prevalence within Wisconsin since its discovery in 2002. To date, more than 227,000 deer have been sampled for CWD statewide with over 5,200 testing positive.
In 2018, the number of deer sampled and determined to be positive for CWD by each management zone is as follows:
Central Farmland Zone: 5,489 sampled, 9 positives;
Central Forest Zone: 639 sampled, 11 positives;
Northern Forest Zone: 2,354 sampled, 1 positive (Oneida County); and
Southern Farmland Zone: 8,571 sampled, 1,039 positives.
There are currently 56 CWD-affected counties due to wild and captive CWD positive detections. During the 2018 calendar year, Buffalo, Chippewa, Dunn, Pepin, Trempealeau, La Crosse, Fond du Lac, Marinette, Florence, Lincoln, and Langlade counties were added as CWD-affected counties and Green Lake County was added as CWD-affected on March 1, 2019.
In 2018, statewide CWD surveillance was focused on annual areas of interest, disease assessment around recent CWD positive detections, and disease detection mainly in the west-central district across all 19 counties, as well as, continued hunter service testing, free of charge, for adult deer anywhere in the state.
State wildlife health officials say the increase in sampling is due to efforts to make it easier for hunters to submit samples.
“We continue to explore ways to make sampling easy for hunters and will work closely with them to make it even more convenient in years to come,” said Tami Ryan, DNR wildlife health section chief. “Once again, hunter cooperation has been outstanding. On behalf of our whole department, I want to thank hunters and the private businesses that assist with our surveillance efforts for their continued role in providing samples and helping us monitor this disease within Wisconsin. Overall, interest from hunters to have their deer CWD tested appears to be increasing.”
These efforts include the use of self-serve kiosks and enhanced communication and outreach efforts. Kiosks provide a 24/7 drop-off option for hunters to help enhance sampling numbers, provide for ease of use, and increase options in the world of electronic registration. Overall feedback from hunters reflected an appreciation for the kiosk option.
New for 2018, individuals or organizations could volunteer to Adopt-a-Kiosk (AAK) throughout the deer season. The main goal of the AAK program is to work with volunteers to enhance CWD sample numbers. Also new for 2018, individuals or organizations could volunteer to Adopt-a-Dumpster with a goal of providing hunters an option for appropriate deer carcass waste disposal.
The average statewide turnaround time during the 2018 deer season was 12 days, compared to just under 15 days in 2017. The turnaround time is measured from the date a CWD sample is taken to a CWD sampling station to when the test results are received by the hunter. The department will continue efforts to lower the turnaround time by becoming more efficient with cost and time.
Baiting & feeding
New baiting and feeding bans were initiated on Feb. 1, 2019 for Waushara, Wood, Racine, and Kenosha counties. The ban was lifted for Marquette County in December 2018 and added back in March 1, 2019. Green Lake County was also added to the ban March 1, 2019. Hunters and landowners should check the DNR baiting and feeding webpage frequently for updates, as new baiting and feeding bans may be enacted in 2019 with new CWD detections. Landowners and hunters should contact their local wildlife biologist to determine if baiting and feeding ban end dates have changed within individual counties, based on CWD test results. None of the counties currently identified statewide will be removed from the baiting and feeding ban in 2019. Additional information on baiting and feeding will be provided in advance of the 2019 deer hunting season.
Prevent spread of CWD
There are recommended practices to reduce and prevent the spread of CWD that hunters, landowners, and any individual can assist with. Some of these actions include proper transportation, handling and disposal of deer carcass waste, reporting sick deer, following baiting and feeding information, cleaning/decontamination of equipment, and hunters can follow urine-based scent recommendations.
For more information regarding baiting and feeding regulations, ways to reduce the spread and overall CWD information in Wisconsin, visit the DNR’s website, dnr.wi.gov, and search “bait and feeding” and “CWD” respectively. To report a sick deer on the landscape, search keywords “sick deer” or contact a local wildlife biologist.