The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirms a wild deer tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in the Town of Underhill in Oconto County. The deer was a one-year-old hunter-harvested buck taken during the 2021 gun deer season. This is the first confirmed wild positive case of CWD in Oconto County.
Following state law, the DNR will renew a three-year baiting and feeding ban in Oconto County as well as a two-year ban in Menominee County, as the deer was harvested within 10 miles of the county line. Shawano County is also within 10 miles of the Oconto positive’s harvest location, but is already under a longer three-year baiting and feeding ban due to a positive CWD detection at a captive deer farm earlier this year.
Baiting or feeding deer encourages them to congregate unnaturally around a shared food source where sick deer can spread CWD through direct contact with healthy deer or by leaving behind infectious prions in their bodily secretions.
Those harvesting deer within 10 miles of the newly detected positive case are especially encouraged to have their harvested adult deer tested for CWD. The Farmland Zone of Oconto County has an either-sex extended archery and crossbow deer hunt through Jan. 31, 2022; harvest authorizations are still available for purchase with your license. Collecting CWD samples is essential for assessing where and to what extent CWD occurs in deer across the state.
Information on how to have deer tested during the 2021-22 hunting seasons is available here.
Successful CWD management depends in part on citizen involvement in the decision-making process through local County Deer Advisory Councils (CDAC). The DNR and the Oconto and Shawano CDACs will hold a public meeting on the status of CWD and a response plan for sampling wild deer in Oconto and Shawano County. The virtual meeting is open to all members of the public and will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 1 from 6-8 p.m. via Zoom. The public may also call in to the meeting by dialing 888-475-4499, meeting ID 871 6740 0821.
CWD is a fatal, infectious nervous system disease of deer, moose, elk and reindeer/caribou. It belongs to the family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) or prion diseases. The Wisconsin DNR began monitoring the state’s wild white-tailed deer population for CWD in 1999. The first positives were found in 2002.