CWD Infected Deer to be Cremated

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State officials working on chronic wasting disease (CWD) management today announced they intend to cremate whitetail-deer carcasses produced by this fall's deer hunt in the CWD eradication zone. This recommendation comes after review of private vendor disposal proposals submitted in August. None of the bids received addressed all the requirements set out in the bid request.

DNR Secretary Darrell Bazzell, speaking on behalf of the CWD Interagency Task Force consisting of the Departments of Natural Resources; Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; and Health and Family Services, made the announcement today after briefing Governor Scott McCallum.

"We need to complete our disposal plans quickly," said Secretary Bazzell. "The fall hunting seasons are just around the corner. We reviewed all the bids submitted on the various disposal options with an eye to needing something up and running by early October. It was obvious that in the short term, extending our existing arrangement with Midwest Cremation Services of Poynette in Columbia County, offered the best solution at this time."

Incineration, chemical digestion, landfilling and rendering proposals were requested. Although DNR scientists feel that landfilling is an environmentally safe option, no landfills are available at this time to dispose of deer from the eradication zone. Only continuation of the current cremation option met the tight timeline necessary. Additional requests for proposals will be issued soon to handle transportation from collection sites and storage of carcasses until the crematory can process them.

"Cremation does involve a challenge in that only so many animals can be processed in a 24-hour period," added Bazzell. "We're going to come up with enough cold storage capacity to handle the number of carcasses we'll get once gun hunting begins. CWD is going to be with us for some time to come and over the coming months we'll continue to explore other safe disposal alternatives offering higher processing capacity and more cost effectiveness, including landfilling."

The eradication zone is located in western Dane, eastern Iowa and southern Sauk counties. It is estimated that as many as 25,000 deer are in the eradication zone. Deer will be collected at registration stations within the zone, samples will be removed for CWD testing, and the carcasses hunters choose not to keep will be stored until scheduled for cremation.

Samples collected from eradication zone deer and from throughout the state this fall will be tested for CWD. Plans call for approximately 500 deer to be sampled for each county or small groups of counties.

"If we achieve the sampling goal of about 500 deer per county we'll be able to say with confidence whether the disease is present or not in your county," said Bazzell. "We want to encourage hunters to hunt, to bring in their deer as usual and, if they're concerned about the venison, put it in the freezer until we get the test results back for their county. It'll take some time but we will know, and hunters will know, where CWD is in the state. In the meantime, they can continue to enjoy the fall season, spend time with family and friends and re-affirm those all-important connections with nature."