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Two antlered white-tailed deer in a field in front of a forest.

DNR Reminds hunters to be on the lookout for CWD

September 28, 2023 2:40 PM

By: Nate Wegehaupt

CWD has affected 62 counties across the state, and has been on the rise in isolated parts on northern Wisconsin.

MADISON, Wis. (Civic Media) – With deer hunting season kicking off in Wisconsin, officials with the state Department of Natural Resources are reminding hunters to be on the lookout for Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD.

CWD is a fatal disease targeting the brain and spinal cord of deer, elk, and moose. Symptoms include extreme weight loss, drooling, lack of fear of humans, and a lack of coordination. 

The disease has an incubation period of more than a year, meaning that an infected animal may not show any sign of the disease for months. While there have been no confirmed cases of CWD in humans, officials strongly discourage eating a deer that has tested positive for the disease. 

CWD was first found in Wisconsin in 2002. Currently, 62 counties are considered affected by the disease, meaning a positive case has been found in the county or in a neighboring county. 

Erin Larson is a Deer Herd Health Specialist with the DNR. She says that positive CWD cases have been on the rise in Wisconsin. That’s why it’s important, she says, to get your deer tested for the disease. 

The state offers several ways to test your deer for CWD. There are 24 hour self-testing kiosks around the state that allow hunters to test for the disease themselves. DNR staff and qualified butchers can also test a deer. 

Officials say that they will be focusing their testing in southern Wisconsin where the disease is most prevalent, but that deer can be tested in any part of the state. 

Larson also has tips for hunters to prevent the spread. She asks people to be responsible for baiting deer in areas where baiting is legal. CWD has been known to spread through food. The DNR also asks hunters to properly dispose of carcass waste in a landfill.

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