Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has plagued Wisconsin deer farms for years, and last year’s near-record rate has officials concerned. In 2017, the fatal disease was confirmed in 60 deer that were raised in captive deer operations. This marks the first time in 11 years that the state has confirmed this many cases of CWD, Wisconsin Public Radio reports.
According to Darlene Konkle, assistant state veterinarian for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), 2017’s total number of infected deer is nearly equal with the number of infected captive deer in 2006. She told Wisconsin Public Radio that, in 2006, the 61 confirmed cases of chronic wasting disease came from a deer breeding facility that “was depopulated.” In 2017, the 60 infected deer were from “game farms already known to have the disease on the premises.”
“We have not had a depopulation in 2017 but we do have several hunting ranches that are positive for CWD and some of those are increasing the rate in which they are taking out animals,” said Konkle.
There are currently 376 deer farms in Wisconsin and DATCP says that 19 have tested positive for CWD over the past 17 years, resulting in the depopulation of 11 captive herds.
Since January, there have been nine confirmed cases of CWD at deer breeding facilities and hunting ranches, and DATCP is trying to keep the spread under control. In fact, in 2016, Gov. Scott Walker requested DATCP to “create best practices for deer farms” and ordered the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources “to conduct deer farm fencing every two years,” according to the Wisconsin Public Radio. The state is currently looking at stricter regulations concerning how deer farms and ranches are managed and monitored.
“We’re constantly re-evaluating our monitoring and status programs, our licensing programs and looking at risk and looking at new information as we get it, as well,” said Konkle.