Hunters are cooperating with the Department of Natural Resources in Wisconsin’s new Chronic Wasting Disease zone in far northern Wisconsin.
A CWD carcass was found three miles west of Shell Lake in Washburn County last fall. That means the disease lept more than 100 miles from the southern Wisconsin zone to the far north. It’s the first time CWD has been found outside that area. So the DNR is asking hunters in the new zone to provide deer samples. Big Game Biologist Kevin Wallenfang says they’re getting lots of samples.
“For the most part, hunters out there were very, very cooperative, interested in the well-being of the herd up in their area," he says. "So we got good cooperation and they’re going to continue to test through this week. Hopefully when it’s all said and done we’re going to get good news and find that we had one little spark out there and hopefully that’s the end of it.”
They hope to get 1000 samples. By Sunday they already had 750.
In addition to Washburn County, the CWD zone also includes surrounding counties of Burnett, Barron and Polk. A ban on baiting and feeding deer is in place there to prevent spreading the fatal disease. Northern Region Warden Dave Zebro says they’ve issued about 15 citations so far.
“We expected it to be worse so the hunters, one they understood the message and two they complied with the ban which is hats off to them for following that ban,” he says.
Ironically, Zebro says the baiting and feeding ban may be spreading the deer out so more hunters are bagging a buck. The number of deer harvested in Washburn County was up 68% after the opening weekend, one of the highest increases in Wisconsin.