Editors Blog

Whoa! A Density of 8,907 Deer Per Square Mile?

The latest news out of western Wisconsin: another case of chronic wasting disease found in a penned-deer operation operating at an insane deer density.

Chronic Wasting Disease is fatal to deer and now is in more than two dozen states and Canadian provinces.

Chronic Wasting Disease is fatal to deer and now is in more than two dozen states and Canadian provinces.

The deer, a 7-year-old doe, tested positive. The National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the test results.

As a result, tens of thousands of Wisconsin deer hunters will be affected. Most likely, the state will place an immediate ban on baiting and feeding in this county, along with several other counties that fall within a certain distance of the infected farm.

The kicker? This deer was one of 167 deer reported on the 12-acre farm. Not a typo. Need some perspective? That farm was running a deer herd that’s equivalent to a ratio of 8,907 deer per square mile. In the wild, a healthy deer herd would number fewer than 35 deer per square mile of habitat.

According to a published report, the state quarantined the Eau Claire County herd, which stops movement of live deer from the property, except to slaughter. Disposition of the remaining deer will depend upon the outcome of the investigation. The DATCP Animal Health Division’s investigation will also examine the animal’s history and trace movements of deer onto and off the property to determine whether other herds may have been exposed to the CWD test-positive deer.

How’d the doe get CWD? It’s anyone’s guess. Hmm, it’s possible that — since CWD is transmitted from nose-to-nose contact — the deer became infected by licking feed off the nose of one of it’s pen mates over the past 7 years. Or perhaps it had the disease when it was transferred to the pen. Or maybe it just randomly showed up in the soil. No one knows.

One thing we do know for sure is that tens of thousands of free-range hunters will be affected. Forever.