Wisconsin DNR’s CWD Policy Fails the Public

Thirty-some years ago critics routinely accused the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources of fear-mongering when it released its annual fish-consumption advisories. The good folks claimed the DNR would ruin recreational fishing by scaring people with information about fish contaminated by PCBs, mercury and other nasty stuff we dumped and pumped into our lakes and rivers.

The Wisconsin DNR is falling short of its target of testing 4,000 deer for chronic wasting disease this year. With hunting seasons over, the DNR remains short by about 1,007 CWD samples.

The Wisconsin DNR is falling short of its target of testing 4,000 deer for chronic wasting disease this year. With hunting seasons over, the DNR remains short by about 1,007 CWD samples.

In turn, DNR brass reminded us of its public-trust obligations to test fish systematically, provide people scientific information about contamination levels, and suggest how much fish we can safely eat, based on a fish’s species and size, and our sex and age.

After providing such information, the DNR said folks must decide themselves whether to follow the advice or ignore it. What the public doesn’t want is government agencies making such decisions for us, or hiding information about our fish.

My, how things have changed. Today, Wisconsin’s DNR and Department of Agriculture seem more concerned about making deer farming affordable than they are about keeping a scientific handle on chronic wasting disease.

Since discovering CWD in southern counties in 2002, the Wisconsin DNR has found the always-fatal disease in 3,100 wild deer.

Since discovering CWD in southern counties in 2002, the Wisconsin DNR has found the always-fatal disease in 3,100 wild deer.

In early December, the DNR Board passed an emergency rule to let deer farmers opt out of the state’s CWD-monitoring program and not upgrade fences to comply with new federal standards. About the same time, yet another deer farm – this time in the Northwoods’ Oneida County – recently yielded a CWD-contaminated whitetail, the 13th such facility to find the disease. Even so, one could argue Wisconsin’s CWD problems are far worse in the wild than behind private fences. Since discovering CWD in Wisconsin in 2002, the DNR has detected the always-fatal disease in 3,100 wild deer, primarily in southern counties.

This fall, CWD surfaced for the first time in a wild deer in Crawford County, and Adams County identified its fifth case. That’s despite the fact the DNR again reduced CWD-monitoring efforts this fall.

Meanwhile, rather than address the state’s worsening problem, DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp and Gov. Scott Walker put on their happy faces before November’s deer season and bubbly taped an 80-second video encouraging hunters to register deer they kill with the DNR’s new electronic-registration system. Yawn. As if hunters had another option.

If Stepp and Walker had to record a public-service ad, they should have sternly encouraged hunters in southern Wisconsin to get their deer tested for CWD before eating it, and directed them to the scant few places collecting samples. Instead, the two leaders are overseeing efforts to collect and share increasingly less information about CWD and its spread. In late summer the DNR acknowledged it was cutting CWD sampling this fall, and set a goal of collecting 4,000 samples before the current period ended March 31, 2016. That’s 25 percent below its previous low, 5,313, in 2011.

Wisconsin is scaling back its CWD-monitoring efforts, even though the disease is spreading farther geographically and increasing in prevalence in existing CWD areas.

Wisconsin is scaling back its CWD-monitoring efforts, even though the disease is spreading farther geographically and increasing in prevalence in existing CWD areas.

As of Jan. 10, the DNR had collected only 2,993 samples, or less than 75 percent of the goal. Can the agency obtain another 1,007 samples before March 31? Tami Ryan, the agency’s wildlife health section chief, said the DNR continues to work toward that goal, but she didn’t sound optimistic about reaching it.

After all, sampling peaks each year during Wisconsin’s nine-day November gun season, which ended Nov. 29. Further, the four-day antlerless-only gun season ended Dec. 13 and, earlier this year, the DNR Board eliminated late December’s holiday gun-deer season. All that’s left was the late archery season, which produces few kills, and ended Jan. 3.

But let’s face it: The DNR has basically told hunters not to worry about CWD tests, and makes sampling so inconvenient that this year’s dismal results aren’t surprising.

Therefore, it seems certain the DNR will not obtain a scientific assessment of CWD’s current presence and prevalence. Although the DNR has collected 75 percent of the CWD samples it desired, that’s a statewide objective. Ryan said some individual sampling areas have obtained only 19 percent to 54 percent of their goals.

“We’re still providing testing services and doing our best to monitor the disease, but until our statisticians analyze all the data from the information we obtain, we won’t know the confidence intervals for each area,” Ryan said. “We’re doing the best we can with what we have for funding and the changes we were directed to implement.”

Given that, one wonders why agency press releases routinely state, “CWD monitoring remains a priority for DNR.” And why keep touting the convenience of self-serve CWD kiosks, even though few such stations operate statewide, and the usage “volume wasn’t high,” Ryan reported.

The Wisconsin DNR had collected only 2,993 samples, or less than 75 percent of its 2015 goal as of Jan. 10.

The Wisconsin DNR had collected only 2,993 samples, or less than 75 percent of its 2015 goal as of Jan. 10.

Further, even though the DNR hasn’t yet tabulated the reports, Ryan said the agency is experiencing an “increasing trend in the number of sick-deer reports” phoned in by residents west of Madison. “DNR staff in the southwestern part of the state regularly divert from their normal workload to handle these calls,” Ryan said.

But it isn’t just the DNR ignoring CWD’s worsening spread. Flat-earthers in the hunting community keep claiming CWD has been around “forever” in Wyoming, and “everything out there is just fine.” Odd. Why, then, is Wyoming’s CWD-endemic area 3.2 million acres larger this year? And why does it cover more than half of the Cowboy State?

And why did Wyoming researchers report in December that its Southern Converse County mule-deer herd number 14,000 in the early 2000s, but fell to half that the past decade? Wildlife researchers studying that herd believe CWD is causing a 19 percent annual decline.

At least Wyoming is still studying and reporting on CWD. What’s Wisconsin’s excuse?

It’s disappointing when smart citizens deny science because they desperately want to believe CWD won’t harm their chief outdoor recreation.

But it’s irresponsible – possibly dangerous – when we let politicians take over a state agency and prevent science from studying a looming wildlife-health crisis.

Patrick Durkin

Patrick Durkin

President at Wisconsin Outdoor Communicators Association
Patrick Durkin is a lifelong bowhunter and full-time freelance outdoor writer/editor who lives in Waupaca, Wisconsin. He has covered hunting, fishing and outdoor issues since 1983. His work appears regularly in national hunting publications, and his weekly outdoors column has appeared regularly in over 20 Wisconsin newspapers since 1984.
Patrick Durkin


  1. Terry S. Singeltary Sr. says:

    Wednesday, December 16, 2015

    Wisconsin Chronic wasting disease confirmed in Crawford County buck harvested on private land

    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com



    CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE CWD WISCONSIN Almond Deer (Buckhorn Flats) Farm Update DECEMBER 2011

    The CWD infection rate was nearly 80%, the highest ever in a North American captive herd.

    RECOMMENDATION: That the Board approve the purchase of 80 acres of land for $465,000 for the Statewide Wildlife Habitat Program in Portage County and approve the restrictions on public use of the site.


    link to dnr.wi.gov

    Friday, December 04, 2015

    Wisconsin CWD-positive white-tailed deer found on Oneida County hunting preserve December 3, 2015

    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com

    Thursday, November 19, 2015

    Wisconsin Eau Claire Co. deer herd two day round of depopulation CWD testing shows 23 positive

    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com

    Tuesday, August 11, 2015

    Wisconsin doing what it does best, procrastinating about CWD yet again thanks to Governor Walker

    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com

    Wednesday, March 04, 2015

    *** Disease sampling results provide current snapshot of CWD in Wisconsin finding 324 positive detections statewide in 2014

    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com

    Tuesday, October 07, 2014

    *** Wisconsin white-tailed deer tested positive for CWD on a Richland County breeding farm, and a case of CWD has been discovered on a Marathon County hunting preserve

    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com

    Thursday, June 25, 2015

    Wisconsin CWD-positive white-tailed deer found on Eau Claire County farm

    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com

    Tuesday, July 14, 2015

    TWO Escaped Captive Deer on the loose in Eau Claire County Wisconsin CWD postive farm Yellow ear tag

    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com

    Tuesday, December 15, 2015

    Chronic Wasting Disease will cause a Wyoming deer herd to go virtually extinct in 41 years, a five-year study predicts

    Study: Chronic Wasting Disease kills 19% of deer herd annually

    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com

    According to Wisconsin’s White-Tailed Deer Trustee Dr. James Kroll, people who call for more public hunting opportunities are “pining for socialism.”

    He further states, “(Public) Game management is the last bastion of communism.”

    “Game Management,” says James Kroll, driving to his high-fenced, two-hundred-acre spread near Nacogdoches, “is the last bastion of communism.”

    Kroll, also known as Dr. Deer, is the director of the Forestry Resources Institute of Texas at Stephen F. Austin State University, and the “management” he is referring to is the sort practiced by the State of Texas.

    The 55-year-old Kroll is the leading light in the field of private deer management as a means to add value to the land. His belief is so absolute that some detractors refer to him as Dr. Dough, implying that his eye is on the bottom line more than on the natural world.

    Kroll, who has been the foremost proponent of deer ranching in Texas for more than thirty years, doesn’t mind the controversy and certainly doesn’t fade in the heat. People who call for more public lands are “cocktail conservationists,” he says, who are really pining for socialism. He calls national parks “wildlife ghettos” and flatly accuses the government of gross mismanagement. He argues that his relatively tiny acreage, marked by eight-foot fences and posted signs warning off would-be poachers, is a better model for keeping what’s natural natural while making money off the land.


    What does this all mean?

    My initial reaction, which is one that I predicted when Kroll was named to the state’s deer trustee position, is that his team’s final recommendations — if implemented — will be heavily skewed toward the state’s larger landowners (500+ acres) and folks who own small parcels in areas comprised mostly of private land. It is also my prediction that the final recommendations (again, if implemented) will do little, if anything, to improve deer herds and deer hunting on Wisconsin’s 5.7 million acres of public land. Where does this leave the public-land hunter? “It will suck to be you,” said one deer manager who asked to remain anonymous out of fear for his job. “The resources and efforts will go toward improving the private land sector. This is all about turning deer hunting away from the Public Land Doctrine and more toward a European-style of management — like they have in Texas.”

    link to texasmonthly.com

    Tuesday, December 29, 2015


    Chronic Wasting Unease

    The emergence of a deadly disease has wildlife officials and deer breeders eyeing each other suspiciously.

    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com

    Wednesday, March 18, 2015

    *** Chronic Wasting Disease CWD Confirmed Texas Trans Pecos March 18, 2015

    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com

    Wednesday, March 25, 2015

    *** Chronic Wasting Disease CWD Cases Confirmed In New Mexico 2013 and 2014 UPDATE 2015

    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com

    Friday, August 14, 2015

    *** Susceptibility of cattle to the agent of chronic wasting disease from elk after intracranial inoculation

    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com

    Monday, January 11, 2016


    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com

    Tuesday, January 12, 2016

    Game and Fish seeks additional public comments on draft of updated CWD plan Singeltary 2nd submission

    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com


    Wednesday, December 30, 2015

    Michigan Deer suspected positive for CWD found in Watertown Township; Jan. 12 public meeting set

    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com

    Saturday, December 12, 2015


    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com

    Terry S. Singeltary Sr.

  2. Good article. This is what “sportsmen” get with Walker. The pressure to ignore this type of issue and to throw out intelligent thinking.

  3. Excellent article! An objective overview of what will perhaps, someday, be a nationwide (and beyond) problem or at least, within the confines of free-ranging cervids. Whitetail hunters have got to share information accurately regarding their respective State, Federal, County, etc. Natural Resources agencies efforts to curb, manage and conduct survelience related to CWD. There are no “hidden Agendas”, these agencies are trying to stop CWD, plain and simple. We, as deer hunters, must support their efforts, cooperate with sampling needs, report sick deer seen, and yes, share in the pain that reduced neer numbers maybe necessary, especially where prevalance rates continue to climb-Like Wisconsin’s!!!!!

  4. Terry S. Singeltary Sr. says:

    Sunday, May 08, 2016


    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com

    Terry S. Singeltary Sr.

  5. Terry Singeltary says:

    Notice to Members Regarding Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

    Posted on: May 31st, 2017
    To: MNA Members
    From: Métis Nation of Alberta
    Date: Wednesday, May 31, 2017
    Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) was made aware of a recent Canadian research study examining the transmission of Chronic Wasting Disease. The initial results of the study indicate that macaque monkeys (genetically similar to humans) can be infected with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) after eating deer that is infected with CWD. CWD is a prion disease, which are fatal, transmissible diseases characterized by abnormal proteins in the brain and nervous system. To date no research has shown that CWD can be passed on to humans, and no human cases of CWD have ever been identified. However, this new research indicates that it is a possibility. The Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health has reached out to us to share with our Métis harvesters this important information.
    For more information you can visit:

    link to aep.alberta.ca


    link to nwhc.usgs.gov.

    What the Alberta Government knows:
    CWD is present in southeastern Alberta, with the area slowly spreading westward over time (introduced into Alberta from Saskatchewan) – see map for more information at link to aep.alberta.ca
    CWD circulates in deer populations, particularly mule deer; it has been found in about 4% of deer tested in 2016;
    Elk can be infected in areas where CWD has been present in deer for a long period of time;
    Moose can also be infected, but this would be fairly rare.
    Necessary Precautions for Harvesters:
    Hunters and others who handle carcasses follow basic handling precautions (available here link to aep.alberta.ca
    All deer, moose and elk harvested from CWD mandatory submission wildlife management units (WMUs) be tested for CWD; and
    A negative result (no CWD detected by the test) must be obtained before any part of an animal is eaten.

    For more information, contact:
    Amy Quintal
    Métis Nation of Alberta
    Métis Harvesting Liaison
    Tel: (780) 455 – 2200

    link to albertametis.com

    FRIDAY, JUNE 02, 2017

    Alberta Canada Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Surveillance Update: 2016/17 Final

    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com

    Chronic Wasting Disease: CFIA Research Summary

    Embargoed until May 23, 2017

    (OCR of a scanned original)

    Research Findings

    Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a progressive, fatal disease of the nervous system of cervids including deer, elk, moose, and reindeer that is caused by abnormal proteins called prions. It is known as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). Other TSEs include scrapie in sheep, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans.

    A limited number of experimental studies have demonstrated that non-human primates, specifically squirrel monkeys, are susceptible to CWD prions. An ongoing research study has now shown that CWD can also be transmitted to macaques, which are genetically closer to humans.

    The study led by Dr. Stefanie Czub, a scientist at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), and funded by the Alberta Prion Research institute has demonstrated that by orally administering material under experimental conditions from cervids (deer and elk) naturally infected with CWD, the disease can be transmitted to macaques.

    in this project, which began in 2009, 18 macaques were exposed to CWD in a variety of ways: by injecting into the brain, through contact with skin, oral administration, and intravenously (into the bloodstream through veins). So far, results are available from 5 animals. At this point, two animals that were exposed to CWD by direct introduction into the brain, one that was administered infected brain material by oral administration and two that were given infected muscle by oral administration have become infected with CWD. The study is ongoing and testing continues in the remaining animals. The early results will be presented at PRlON 2017, the annual international conference on prion diseases, in Edinburgh, Scotland, May 23 to 26, 2017.

    Potential impacts of the new finding

    Since 2003 Canada has a policy that recommends that animals and materials known to be infected with prions be removed from the food chain and from health products. Although no direct evidence of CWD prion transmission to humans has ever been recorded, the policy advocates a precautionary approach to managing CWD and potential human exposure to prions. These initial findings do not change Health Canada’s Health Products and Food Branch (HPFB) position on food and health products. A precautionary approach is still recommended to manage the potential risks of exposure to prions through food and health products. Measures are in place at federal, provincial and territorial levels to reduce human exposure to products potentially contaminated by CWD by preventing known infected animals from entering the marketplace.

    While Federal and P/T government’s animal disease control policies continue to divert known CWD-infected animals away from entering the food and feed supply, research and development of sensitive detection methods including live-animal sampling techniques remain crucial for ensuring an accurate diagnosis. In addition, consistent federal, provincial and territorial communications of appropriate precautionary measures for hunters and indigenous communities are required.

    Next Steps

    The CFlA will continue to collaborate with national and international partners to develop and validate new diagnostic techniques. The CFlA will also continue to offer confirmatory testing services and reference laboratory expertise to provincial and territorial partners on demand.

    Currently, CFlA laboratories are leading or collaborating on several research projects to understand the potential for CWD to infect humans. These projects use non‐human primates, genetically modified mice, and cell-free amplification approaches. Given the present findings, CFiA encourages continued research into TSEs.

    The results of this study reinforce the need to redesign the federal program to foster greater adoption of risk mitigation measures for farmed cervids. Federal and provincial government collaboration will continue as new program options are assessed.

    The results of Dr. Czub’s research into CWD will be of interest to scientists, governments, industry and people who consume cervid products. After the presentation at PRION 2017, the research will follow the normal steps of completion, peer review and publication. The Government of Canada will monitor the response to this research and determine whether further review of the science is required. Other studies underway by other researchers may also become public as a result of the presentation of Dr. Czub’s research.

    The Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, CFlA and other Federal partners are working together to assess what policies or programs need further review as well as preparing other communications about the research and health policy and advice to Canadian. 2017/04/28


    0:30 First evidence of intracranial and peroral transmission of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) into Cynomolgus macaques: a work in progress

    Dr Stefanie Czub University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine/Canadian Food Inspection Agency Canada

    link to prion2017.org

    WEDNESDAY, MAY 03, 2017

    *** First evidence of intracranial and peroral transmission of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) into Cynomolgus macaques

    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com

    Wednesday, May 24, 2017

    PRION2017 CONFERENCE VIDEO UPDATE 23 – 26 May 2017 Edinburgh UPDATE 1

    Subject: PRION2017 CONFERENCE VIDEO UPDATE 23 – 26 May 2017 Edinburgh

    *see archives of previous Prion Conferences, the ones that are still available, scroll down towards bottom in this link.

    link to prionprp.blogspot.com

    WEDNESDAY, MAY 31, 2017

    Texas New Exotic CWD Susceptible Species Rules Now in Effect

    link to chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com

  6. brooks johnson says:

    On one hand you claim the DNR its lying to the public and then you are upset we ignore science. See any connection?


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