CWD Management Proposal Released

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The Department of Natural Resources today released details on special deer hunting proposals developed to address the discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in free ranging deer in western Dane County. The proposed emergency rule package will go to the Natural Resources Board for approval at its June 25th meeting in Racine.

"This emergency rule request is the result of a great deal of work by many of our most experienced wildlife biologists, veterinarians, ecologists and research experts. It incorporates input from the public recorded at statewide meetings, focus groups and over 3,000 questionnaires returned to us," said Department of Natural Resources Secretary, Darrell Bazzell.

"Landowners and hunters have expressed overwhelming support for CWD control," Bazzell added. "These folks have been and will continue to be at the front of this effort. With approval of this new rule package they will have a great set of tools to do the job."

The state Departments of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and Health and Family Services also contributed to drafting of the proposal. They addressed the potential impacts—both real and perceived—of CWD on Wisconsin's wildlife, agricultural and human health.

"These proposed rules are based on the best science available," said Bazzell "and reflect our recommendations that the best approach to controlling CWD is to drastically reduce the deer population in and near the infected areas. We must do all we can to stop the spread of this disease."

Wildlife experts from western states that have had the disease in their deer and elk herds for up to nearly 30 years in some cases have strongly recommended reducing the deer population in the infected area. Colorado, Nebraska and Saskatchewan have elected to severely reduce wild and, in some cases, captive deer and elk herds within their borders as well.

CWD is caused by an infectious abnormal protein called a prion that is passed from deer to deer both directly and indirectly. Wildlife population experts predict that left alone, deer infection rates will climb and local deer populations will collapse, opening the way for CWD to spread to other areas of Wisconsin.

Rule Proposal

Note: Full text of the rule proposal can be found at the Chronic Wasting Disease section of the DNR Web site or directly:
DNR CWD Emergency Rule Proposal (PDF, 726 KB)

In a special session of the legislature called by Governor McCallum on May 10, lawmakers gave DNR additional statutory authorities to address the problem of CWD. The following proposals will be considered by the Natural Resources Board.

The emergency rule establishes two CWD management zones for hunting regulations: an Intensive Harvest Zone that includes an Eradication Zone; and a larger CWD Management Zone that extends out to approximately 40 miles from the center of the infection. A map of the zones can be found on the Chronic Wasting Disease section of the DNR Web site.

Within the Intensive Harvest Zone including the CWD Eradication Zone recommendations include:

  • Deer populations be reduced to as close to zero as possible in the Eradication Zone
  • Herd management include sharpshooting by DNR employees in the Eradication Zone
  • Landowner shooting permits in the Eradication Zone
  • Aircraft use for drives and shooting in the Eradication Zone
  • Landowner shooting from tractors in the Eradication Zone
  • Shooting from vehicles by DNR employees in the Eradication Zone
  • The Eradication Zone could expand if additional CWD positive deer are found
  • A gun season running October 24—January 31
  • An archery season beginning September 14 and running through January 31
  • No separate muzzleloader season

Within the CWD Management Zone, recommendations include:

  • The population goal within the Management Zone be 10 deer per square mile of deer range for all deer management units and partial units in this zone
  • Gun hunting Oct. 24-27 (same period as Oct. Zone T)
  • November 23—Dec 15 (same periods as nine-day gun season plus muzzleloader plus Dec Zone T
  • Dec 21—January 3 (Christmas week though end of regular archer season.
  • Archery hunt will run from Sept. 14 through Jan. 3
  • There will be no separate muzzleloader season
Permit system

The department is recommending an earn-a-buck system in order to achieve the level of herd reduction that is needed in both zones. Hunters will be allowed to earn multiple bucks. For each antlerless deer shot, a hunter will earn the opportunity to harvest a buck. Bucks and antlerless deer could be brought in at the same time. Hunters can also earn buck hunting permits during the summer months in the ongoing landowner permit program in the Eradication Zone.

Baiting and feeding

Baiting for any purpose would be banned statewide to reduce the chance that a disease would become established and spread in local deer herds. Baiting for bear hunting is allowed if the bait is placed in a way that the bait is not available to deer. Feeding of deer for nonhunting purposes also would be prohibited statewide. Feeding of birds and small mammals would not be stopped as long as the feed is inaccessible to deer.

Landowner permits

Deer removal permits will continue to be issued to landowners in the eradication zone.

  • Landowners can authorize others to hunt their lands for them as long as the hunter meets normal requirements for age and hunter safety requirements.
  • Licenses would not be required for participants except during gun and archery seasons described above
  • There would be no limit on the number of deer killed
  • Harvested deer would need to be registered at a designated registration station
State Parks and public lands

As a manager of lands within the CWD Management Zone, state land would be opened to deer hunting as part of this management plan. Specifics as to closed areas within a park and other restrictions should be checked with the park managers. Hunters will need a park sticker for their vehicle. General seasons in parks would be as follows:

  • Blue Mounds State Park. Open to gun and archery hunting in the mornings of Oct 24-27 and all day from Oct 28—Dec 15
  • Governor Dodge State Park, Mirror Lake State Park, Devil's Lake State Park. Open to gun hunting during mornings of Oct 24-27. Open to gun hunting Nov. 23 — Dec 15
  • Yellowstone Lake State Park, Natural Bridge State Park, Cadiz Springs State Park, Rocky Arbor State Park. Open to gun hunting Nov. 23—Dec. 15
Registration of carcasses

  • Intensive Harvest Zone: Deer harvested in this zone would have to be registered in that zone. Registration would be required by 5:00 P.M. the day after the day the deer was killed
  • CWD Management Zone: Deer harvested in the Management Zone would have to be registered in the deer management unit where the deer was killed or adjacent unit but could not be removed from the Management Unit prior to registration. Registration would be required by 5:00 P.M. on the day after the day that the deer was killed

"This is undoubtedly the most intensive harvest framework we?ve proposed in the modern history of deer management," says Bazzell. "But we're also in the midst of the most serious challenge to the health and future of our white-tailed deer herd in history. These steps are necessary if we're to have a fighting chance of licking this thing. We've listened to the heartfelt comments from the public - both hunters and nonhunters - on how best to respond to this crisis. Our wildlife managers have taken those comments to heart and feel that what we're recommending here, while tough, is the best course to follow."