Despite increased testing, DNR officials haven’t found an increased presence of chronic wasting disease in the Chippewa Valley.
In spring of 2018 the first confirmed case of CWD was found in Eau Claire County with a sick 2-year-old doe, triggering multi-year ban on feeding and baiting in Eau Claire County and neighboring Buffalo, Chippewa, Dunn, Pepin and Trempealeau counties.
Bill Hogseth, a wildlife biologist for the Wisconsin DNR, said that in response they will be focusing on testing more and more deer.
“It kind of kicked us into gear to offer ore testing,” Hogseth said.
In 2018, the first deer hunting season since the discovery of the deer, they increased their testing to around 200 deer in Chippewa County, up from about 50 the previous year.
They also widely expanded the options for testing, with locations in Bloomer, Stanley, Chippewa Falls, New Auburn, Cornell and Eau Claire, when previously hunters had to take deer into Eau Claire to have them tested.
“We tried to expand the options for hunters,” Hogseth said.
Despite the increase, no CWD positive deer have been found in the area, and there hadn’t been any found in testing prior to finding the sick deer in Eau Claire County.
In 2018, in the six county area 1,618 deer were tested for the disease, but haven’t revealed any positive results.
There are plans to continue testing in the coming years and try and gain more information and data to understand where the sick deer which was discovered came from.
Hogseth said they did not have any indication it was from a deer farm, but they didn’t have a clear indication yet of how it had become sick, which they believe it had been for most of its life.
“We were surprised as everyone else was when that deer tested positive,” Hogseth said. “We still see the need to test more.”
They’ve also continued localized testing in the area the deer was found near the town of Brunswick.
It has also triggered a new advisory organization in the area.
The Chippewa Valley Chronic Wasting Disease Advisory Team consists of a community member from each county and has met 3 times so far to provide recommendations to the DNR and take public comment.
They will meet at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 29 at the Rock Creek Town Hall in Rock Falls.
In addition to public comment and DNR staff will be on hand to provide information and talk about their next planned steps.
According to the DNR there are 55 CWD affected counties in Wisconsin with the highest concentration of wild deer testing positive for CWD in southwest Wisconsin in the areas of Iowa, Richland, Sauk and Dane counties.