MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Chronic wasting disease is spreading among Wisconsin’s deer, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.
More than 9 percent of white-tailed deer that were tested last year had the disease, compared with about 6 percent the previous year. Of the 3,133 deer that were tested last year, 295 tested positive for chronic wasting disease.
The 2015 prevalence rate was the highest ever in Wisconsin, which first detected the disease in deer in 2002. More than half of the state’s 72 counties now have infected deer.
Democratic state Reps. Chris Danour, of Trempealeau, and Nick Milroy, of South Range, have called on Gov. Scott Walker to work with the DNR on new plans to stop the disease from spreading, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
“While we appreciate efforts currently being taken by your administration, without a real acknowledgment of the concerning increase in CWD (chronic wasting disease) that has been revealed over the last eight years, we fear that the scope of this issue will continue to worsen, reaching every corner of the state,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Walker.
Currently, the DNR does sporadic, voluntary testing. The agency’s approach is much more passive than those being used in some neighboring states.
In Illinois, officials have taken aggressive measures against chronic wasting disease, including sharpshooting to reduce densities in areas where deer are known to have the disease.
Eradicating chronic wasting disease in Wisconsin is no longer possible, according to wildlife officials.
But Danour and Milroy said it’s important to address “this issue in a swift and responsible manner” because chronic wasting disease threatens “an important part of Wisconsin’s identity and culture.”
“The vitality of our deer herd and the enjoyment sportsmen take from harvesting healthy deer every fall is at stake,” they wrote in the letter.
Walker’s press secretary, Laurel Patrick, said the administration received the letter Tuesday and is reviewing it to determine the next steps.
Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com