- Associated Press - Thursday, October 27, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Department of Natural Resources review has found Wisconsin’s fight against chronic wasting disease was hampered by funding as well as social and political factors.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported (https://bit.ly/2faTGXg ) that the DNR presented the review to an advisory committee working on potential revisions to the state’s long-term CWD plan at its first meeting Thursday.

According to an executive summary of the report, the DNR acknowledged shortcomings in minimizing the disease’s spread. The summary noted that five years ago the state greatly de-emphasized killing deer in high-infection areas. It also says that a statewide ban on baiting deer to slow CWD’s spread wasn’t sought and prohibitions against moving deer carcasses were complicated by expanding infection areas.

What’s more, a new system of electronic registration for deer hunters made collecting tissue samples harder. Also, a professional marketing campaign to educate the public was discontinued due to cost and a lack of funding prevented surveys of public attitudes about the disease’s spread, the review found.

Chronic wasting disease attacks deer’s brains, causing the animals to grow thin, act strangely and eventually die.

The ailment was first detected in Wisconsin in 2002. The DNR initially tried to contain the disease by calling on hunters to kill as many deer as possible but backed off that approach in 2010 after intense public backlash. Test results released last March showed that 9.4 percent of the 3,133 deer tested in 2015 were infected, the highest prevalence rate since CWD was discovered in the state.

The DNR’s board in December 2015 ordered a review of the agency’s 15-year CWD plan amid concerns that the disease has been spreading unchecked. Gov. Scott Walker in May called for more studies on the disease and guidelines for the deer farm industry but refused to go back to attempting to thin the state’s herds.

Following Walker’s order, the DNR decided to convene an advisory committee of stakeholders to offer recommendations on plan updates. The committee met for the first time Thursday in Madison and plans to meet two more times. The DNR plans to present a new long-term plan to its board in March.

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Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, https://www.madison.com/wsj

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