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Chronic Wasting Disease testing ramps up during gun deer season

Posted at 6:37 PM, Nov 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-26 19:40:11-05

Gun deer hunting season is underway, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is urging hunters to get their deer tested for Chronic Wasting Disease, a disease that impacts the nervous system in deer.

The number of deer that have tested positive has increased over the years. In 2018, 1063 deer tested positive for CWD. In 2017, 603 deer had positive results. So far from during the bow hunting season, 418 deer tested positive, including 4 in Walworth County and 3 in Waukesha County. CWD is most prevalent in Sauk, Dane, and Iowa County.

"We had a fair amount of samples come in during archery season and then talking to folks working CWD sampling stations, there is still a big interest in people getting their deer tested, which is something we really like to see. It provides us the ability to see where the disease is," said Bret Owsley Southern District Wildlife Supervisor with the Wisconsin DNR.

CWD testing is free to the hunter and takes about 2 to 3 weeks to process. Tuesday morning, biologists in Waukesha spent their time taking deer samples. Biologist test for CWD by taking out the lymph nodes and sending them to a testing center. If a deer does test positive, a hunter will receive a replacement tag for next year.

Testing for CWD helps biologists obtain a better understanding of the overall health of the deer population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are no reported cases of CWD infection in humans.

"The CDC doesn't recommend to eat a deer that has tested positive for CWD," said Owsley.

If a deer does test positive, there are designated dumpsters in every county for discarding a deer carcass.