Paul A. Smith
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Published 2:25 PM EST Dec 14, 2019
A white-tailed deer killed this fall near Plymouth in Sheboygan County tested positive for chronic wasting disease, the Department of Natural Resources announced Friday.
It is the first detection of the disease in the county. It’s also the first CWD finding in a wild deer in this part of eastern Wisconsin.
The closest previous CWD cases were about 25 miles away at a captive deer and elk facility near Kewaskum in Washington County. When that commercial operation was depopulated in 2018, 11 of 60 animals were CWD-positive.
State wildlife officials did not speculate on how the disease reached Sheboygan County. From 1999 to earlier this year the agency had tested 1,143 deer in the county for CWD; all had been negative.
The Sheboygan County finding is especially notable as it is the first CWD-positive wild deer in the deer-rich farmland are of eastern Wisconsin.
Prior to Friday’s announcement, the closest CWD-positive wild deer detection was about 60 miles to the southwest in Dodge County, according to a DNR map.
As required by state law, the finding near Plymouth will renew a three-year baiting and feeding ban in Sheboygan County and a two-year ban in Fond du Lac County.
The Sheboygan County deer was an adult doe killed by an archery hunter and submitted for testing as part of the DNR’s disease surveillance efforts.
“We are committed to working closely with local communities, including the citizen-based County Deer Advisory Councils as we explore future management options for this disease in Sheboygan and the surrounding counties,” said Jeff Pritzl, DNR Northeast District wildlife supervisor, in a statement.
Chronic wasting disease is a fatal, infectious nervous system disease of deer, moose, elk and caribou. It belongs to the family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) or prion diseases.
The disease was first identified in captive mule deer in Colorado in 1967.
It has since spread to 26 states and several foreign countries.
Although it has not been shown to cause illness in humans, the Centers for Disease Control and other health experts recommend meat from CWD-positive animals not be consumed.
The DNR began monitoring Wisconsin’s wild white-tailed deer population for CWD in 1999. The first positives were found near Mt. Horeb in deer killed in the 2001 hunting season.
In response to the Sheboygan County finding, the DNR said it will work with the local CDAC members and schedule meetings in January to discuss response actions, including the issuance of CWD surveillance permits.
To help assess CWD prevalence in the area, the agency will also sample vehicle-killed adult deer as well as deer harvested under agricultural damage permits and under urban deer hunts.
The agency encourages the public to report sick deer.
For additional information, visit dnr.wi.gov.