"Progress Slow in Battle Against Chronic Wasting Disease"

"The Department of Natural Resources' efforts to combat chronic wasting disease -- an illness that threatens Wisconsin's entire deer herd -- have had little effect after seven years and nearly $41 million in state and federal spending, data and interviews indicate.

The DNR has failed to meet critical goals for reducing the size of the deer herd and reducing infection totals in areas hit by the fatal disease, Davin Lopez, who heads the agency's CWD program, acknowledged in a recent interview.

For instance, in one southwestern Wisconsin deer management unit being monitored for CWD, the population goal is about 1,800 deer. Estimates from earlier this year put the herd at around 11,500 in that unit.

The two times the DNR appeared to be making progress with the population within the CWD Management Zone, it was only after goals were relaxed and made easier to attain. The population goal in 2008 was more than three times the goal in 2002, when the DNR first started specifically monitoring for the disease.

At the same time, the rate of infection in adult bucks in the core western area of the CWD management zone, which covers mostly western Dane and eastern Iowa counties, increased from 10 percent in 2007 to 15.5 percent in 2008."

Kryssy Pease reports for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism in the Wausau Daily Herald November 29, 2009.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009