DNR collecting deer heads to hopefully halt spread of CWD

Courtesy: EPA
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WOODRUFF, Wis. (WSAW) -- A new review by the Department of Natural Resources shows the state's fight against a disease killing off deer was discontinued due to lack of funding, but one Oneida County town is attempting a new recommendation on how to stop the spread of the disease.

With more than 15 deer farms infected in Wisconsin, Chronic Wasting Disease is on the rise. That prompted the Woodruff DNR Center to take action and begin targeted surveillance in the Three Lakes area, so they can test deer samples and see if CWD is spreading.

CWD is a fatal disease that affects deer and has no cure. Originally, it was first found in Wisconsin in 2002.

According to the Wisconsin DNR website, a number of counties in our area are affected by CWD. Vilas, Forest and Oneida County were added in January.

"It's a prion that's like a smart protein that attaches and affects the brain, basically causing the brain to get spongy," explained Vilas County Wildlife Biologist, Michele Woodford.

With testing in 2015 showing that nearly 10 percent of over 3,000 deer tested positive, the Woodruff DNR is now conducting sampling to find out which ones are sick.

Anyone who harvests deer can get in touch with the Department of Natural Resources in order to have their deer sampled.

The sampling began this year in Woodruff, and they're targeting a 16 township areas and asking hunters to bring in their deer heads to be sampled.

"The more heads that we can get, the better we can feel confident with what's going on in our herd up here in the Rhinelander and Eagle River areas," said Woodford.

So far, they've collected 30 heads, with a goal of collecting 100.

None have tested positive, however, they hope to uncover the CWD problem in their area before more deer get infected.

This all ties in with illegal deer baiting and deer to deer contact. In the end, they're trying to eliminate the contact between non-family groups of deer so the spreading of the disease can stop.

If you'd like to help out the cause, there are three DNR centers in Rhinelander, Woodruff, and Eagle River that you can drop off your deer head at for sampling.