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DNR urges testing for CWD during opening weekend

MADISON (WKOW) — Hunters across Wisconsin will be out in their stands and blinds this weekend for the opening day of gun deer hunting season and DNR officials want them to keep an eye out for CWD.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal nervous system disease that can be transmitted by decomposition after a deer dies which can then contaminate the environment. The Department of Natural Resources said 57 out of 72 counties have cases of CWD or are within 10 miles of a CWD case.

This month, Marquette University Law School Poll shows a majority of deer hunters, 65%, are worried CWD will be a threat to future herds. DNR officials say to ensure deer populations are healthy for generations to come, it’s important to test deer for the disease.

“Ultimately what we’re trying to do is buy time until research can come up with ways to control it or, more importantly, eradicate it from the landscape,” said Todd Naas, Wildlife Biologist at Wisconsin DNR. 

Signs of CWD include, skinny deer, drooping of the head and ears, teeth grinding and noticeable weakness. However, most often deer may not show any symptoms at all as it can take years before signs start to show. 

“If we can detect it early enough before the prevalence expands, we can hopefully implement some strategies of slowing down the disease,” said Naas.

A resource to use while in the field is the DNR ‘Hunt Wild Wisconsin’ mobile app. It shows hunters where to find chronic wasting disease sampling stations and deer carcass disposal locations. It also shows property boundaries and shooting hours.

Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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