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Public encouraged to share CWD viewpoints at Mead Center Tuesday


MILLADORE, WI (WSAU) -  Several hunting enthusiasts discussed Chronic Wasting Disease in Wisconsin’s deer herd, and shared their opinions with wildlife managers. The Department of Natural Resources hosted an informational meeting at the Mead Wildlife Center Tuesday night, not far from where a deer was taken last fall that tested positive for the disease.

Kris Belling is the DNR Wildlife Management Program supervisor for the west central 19-county district. She says they want to get as much public input as possible.

CWD is a fatal nervous system disease of deer, moose and elk known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) or prion diseases. Belling says, “It’s a disease that’s new to Wisconsin eleven years ago, and it was pretty much a complete mystery at that point. We have learned a lot about it. We have learned how it’s transmitted. We’ve got more information on how it progresses within the animals themselves as well as how it progresses throughout the herd, so we have learned more about it but there is still a lot that we don’t know.”

The DNR panel included experts including wildlife biologists and veterinarians. People at the meeting expressed several opinions, but seemed to agree the state needs to formulate a plan to keep CWD from spreading and harming the deer herd like it has in several western states.

CWD is spread by body fluids such as saliva from infected animals in common feeding areas. Belling says that is why there is a law against feeding deer in certain areas. “In counties where CWD has been found, either in the wild or in a captive herd, and in any counties that are within 10 miles of that CWD positive deer, baiting and feeding is banned.” That means baiting and feeding in Portage and Marathon counties is against the law.

Information Specialist Ed Culhane says he’s attended three of these meetings, and believes the public has a variety of ideas, but wants to know the DNR’s management plan. He believe the public is waiting for DNR staff to say, “Here is what we suggest, and then when we have a plan that they can react to, then I think we’ll get a better idea (of public wishes.) Right now, they have a lot of questions and we’ve got some opinions, and I don’t think we’ve gathered a consensus at this point.”

About 40 people attended the information meeting. More about Chronic Wasting Disease can be found at the DNR’s website.

These links lead to more information about CWD: