By Chris Watkins, WAOW
MADISON (WAOW) — Rep. Katrina Shankland introduced the “Healthy Herd, Healthy Hunt” legislative package Tuesday to help prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Wisconsin.
The legislative package includes bills that would provide funding for CWD research and management, funding for CWD testing kiosks, and funding for carcass disposal sites and dumpsters.
“With the fall deer hunt approaching, there is cause for real concern with the continued spread of CWD across Wisconsin’s deer herd,” said Rep. Shankland. “I am proud to introduce this important legislation to help support the DNR with additional funding for CWD research, management, and testing and resources for deer carcass dumpsters and kiosks.”
CWD is a contagious neurological disease of deer, elk and moose that is caused by an abnormal protein called a prion. These prions cause brain degeneration in infected animals and lead to extreme weight loss, abnormal behavior and loss of bodily functions.
“These comprehensive bills support the DNR’s high priority focus on Chronic Wasting Disease,” said DNR Secretary-designee Preston Cole. “Convenient disposal options, testing of deer and research all provide essential information to help provide the solutions to slow the spread of this deadly disease.”
The fatal disease was first found in Wisconsin in 2002 through testing of hunter harvested deer in November 2001. Since then, more than 4,000 deer have tested positive for this always fatal disease. Of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, there are currently 56 CWD affected counties.
“Over the past eight years we have experienced a vacuum of leadership on the issue of CWD. I have been working in collaboration with the DNR for months to determine what the legislature can do immediately to support their ongoing efforts,” Shankland said. “We have heard from the Wisconsin Conservation Congress and Natural Resources Board about the importance of testing deer carcasses, proper carcass disposal, and educating hunters about the threat of CWD. This legislation responds to these requests, continues the dialogue, and helps support the important work that the DNR is doing under the leadership of Secretary-designee Cole and the Evers Administration.”