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No more CWD positive deer found in Chippewa Valley despite increased testing

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 in a sick 2-year-old doe, triggering multi-year bans 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 the DNR will focus on testing more and more deer.

“It kind of kicked us into gear to offer more testing,” Hogseth said.

In 2018, the first deer hunting season since the discovery of the deer, the DNR increased testing to about 200 deer in Chippewa County, up from about 50 the previous year.

It 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, 1,618 deer were tested for the disease in the six-county area but testing turned up no positive results.

There are plans to continue testing in the coming years to try to gain more information to understand where the sick deer came from.

Hogseth said they did not have any indication it was from a deer farm, but the DNR doesn’t have a clear indication yet how it became 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.”

The DNR also continued localized testing in the area the deer was found in the town of Brunswick.

There’s also 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 three times so far to provide recommendations to the DNR and take public comment.

The team 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.

The DNR increased testing to about 200 deer in Chippewa County, up from about 50 the previous year.

Democratic Wisconsin governor takes office, urges compromise

MADISON — Newly sworn-in Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers called for a rejection of “the tired politics of the past” in his inauguration speech Monday, urging lawmakers to find bipartisan solutions to the biggest issues facing the state.

Evers, the state superintendent of schools since 2009, took over for Republican Scott Walker and faces a Republican-controlled Legislature that will oppose many of his biggest priorities. Republican legislative leaders, also speaking on inauguration day, echoed Evers’ call for bipartisanship but said they wouldn’t back down in the face of a new Democratic governor.

“We must turn the page on the tired politics of the past, we must lead by example,” Evers said during his inauguration address in the rotunda of the state Capitol. “It’s time to remake and repair our state and reclaim our better history. The people of Wisconsin demanded a change this November, and that change is coming.”

Evers called for transcending divisiveness.

“May we have courage in our conscience,” Evers said. “And may we be willing to do what’s best for the next generation rather than the next election.”

Evers’ ascendance as governor marks a new era in Wisconsin politics, ending eight years of Republican dominance. It also marks the first time since 1986 that all constitutional officers are Democrats.

Evers called for a return to the values of kindness, respect and civility, and he urged Republicans and Democrats to set aside party allegiances to work for a greater good. While some have said divided government is a recipe for gridlock, Evers called for compromise.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said some may expect the Assembly to “veer into the left lane” now that Evers is governor, but the body will have to move down the center and Evers won’t “drive the car alone.”

“I promise you over the next two years, we will not let government expand at the expense of your freedoms,” Vos said.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told reporters that he opposes Evers’ call to raise the minimum wage. But he’s also warning GOP senators to think twice before pursuing bills on topics like abortions and “some Second Amendment stuff” that they know Evers won’t sign into law.

Evers emphasized his campaign priorities, including fully funding public schools “at every level” from pre-kindergarten through college; making health care more affordable and accessible; and improving the conditions of Wisconsin’s roads.

Walker leaves a fundamentally changed Wisconsin

MADISON — Scott Walker didn’t want to go out like this.

The once-rising Republican star who made his name kneecapping public sector unions as governor of Wisconsin leaves office in defeat Monday. He was narrowly beaten by Democrat Tony Evers, the state education superintendent who marched with teachers in protest of Walker’s policies.

After watching Evers take the oath to replace him, the 51-year-old Walker will depart the governor’s mansion and face life outside of elected office for the first time in 25 years. Walker said that in the days since the loss, his most fervent supporters have approached him, some in tears, concerned about what he’s going through.

“It’s almost like it was after my dad passed where they expect you to be a wreck and you’re like, ‘We’re going to be OK, you’re going to be OK, the state’s going to be OK,’” Walker said. “We’re going to be just fine going forward.”

Just eight years ago, the college dropout rose to the highest elected office in Wisconsin. Two years later, following massive protests over his bill going after public sector unions, he became the first governor in U.S. history to defeat a recall election.

But Walker wanted more. He wanted to be president of the United States.

Running on the promise to do for the country what he did for Wisconsin, Walker was an early leader in neighboring Iowa. But after a series of missteps, his hopes and fundraising plummeted when Donald Trump got in the race.

Walker came home and refocused on winning a third term as governor. Instead, voters decided eight years was enough.

Walker, suffering defeat for the first time since a 1990 run for state Assembly, plans to hit the road as a speaker advocating for conservative issues, positioning himself as Trump’s biggest booster in Wisconsin. Trump narrowly carried the state in 2016 and it will likely be a key part of any roadmap to victory in 2020.

Walker also won’t rule out a future run for U.S. Senate or even governor again in 2022 , although he acknowledged that Republicans would probably want a “new face.”

Regardless of what Walker does next, he leaves the governor’s office having fundamentally altered the state.

To his critics, Walker divided and deeply scarred Wisconsin.

Walker signed into law a litany of Republican priorities. His boldest and most disputed move came right out of the gate, when he effectively eliminated public sector collective bargaining while forcing state workers to pay more for health care and pension benefits to help solve a budget shortfall.

Other Walker achievements are long and far-reaching.

They include making Wisconsin a right-to-work state and requiring a photo ID to vote. He tightened restrictions on abortions, loosened limits on gun purchases and worked with Trump to land a Foxconn Technology Group factory and campus that could result in up to 13,000 new jobs and a $10 billion investment.

Marc Wehrs /   


3-pointer spark McDonell offense   SPORTS, PAGE B1

Trump plans border visit as shutdown enters 3rd week

WASHINGTON — With no breakthrough in sight to end the partial government shutdown Monday, President Donald Trump planned an address to the nation tonight and a Thursday visit the U.S.-Mexico border to highlight his demands for a border wall. Newly empowered House Democrats — and at least a few Republican senators — are stepping up pressure on Trump and GOP lawmakers to reopen the government.

Trump said he would discuss the “Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border” at 8 p.m. He maintains that more than $5 billion for a wall is necessary to secure the border. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted Monday that Trump will use the visit to “meet with those on the front lines of the national security and humanitarian crisis.”

As the shutdown lurched into a third week, many Republicans watched nervously from the sidelines as hundreds of thousands of federal workers went without pay and government disruptions hit the lives of ordinary Americans.

Trump has offered to build the barrier with steel rather than concrete, billing that as a concession to Democrats’ objections to a solid wall. They “don’t like concrete, so we’ll give them steel,” he said.

But the Democrats have made clear they see a wall as immoral and ineffective and prefer other types of border security funded at already agreed-upon levels.

White House officials affirmed Trump’s funding request in a letter to Capitol Hill after a meeting Sunday with senior congressional aides led by Vice President Mike Pence at the White House complex yielded little progress. The letter from Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought sought funding for a “steel barrier on the Southwest border.”

The White House said the letter, as well as details provided during the meeting, sought to answer Democrats’ questions about the funding request. Democrats, though, said the administration still failed to provide a full budget of how it would spend the billions requested for the wall from Congress. Trump campaigned on a promise that Mexico would pay for the wall, but Mexico refused.

The administration letter includes a request for $800 million for “urgent humanitarian needs,” a reflection of the growing anxiety over migrants traveling to the border — which the White House said Democrats raised in the meetings. And it repeats some existing funding requests for detention beds and security officers, which already were panned by Congress and would likely find resistance among House Democrats.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi intends to begin passing individual bills to reopen agencies in the coming days, starting with the Treasury Department to ensure Americans receive their tax refunds. That effort is designed to squeeze Senate Republicans, some of whom are increasingly anxious about the extended shutdown.