No new cases of Chronic Wasting Disease were found so far in the new northern CWD zone during the just-ended gun deer season. But testing samples turned in by hunters will tell the full story.
The DNR had hoped for 1000 samples from the 10-mile CWD zone around Shell Lake. They have 966 so far, and hope for a few more. Department of Natural Resource CWD Biologist Mark Rasmussen says if they get another 100 samples, test results will give them a 90% confidence level of accuracy.
But just eye-balling the kill so far, Rasmussen says they haven’t seen any signs of CWD.
"Not during the gun-deer season. We had a few suspect deer we sampled prior to the season," he says. "We did not have any sick deer during the gun-deer season. All the ones that we have tested so far have come back negative."
Everyone is hoping that by the time all of the samples are tested by mid-January, no new CWD cases will be found. But even if no new cases are found, Rasmussen says they’ll continue to test in the Washburn County area for years to come. In fact, Wisconsin doesn’t have a mechanism in place to declare an area CWD-free.
"In regards to the baiting and feeding ban, the legislation states that it's a permanent ban once we find one CWD positive deer," he says. "So, without a legislative change, the ban is permanent."
If a test does show a harvested deer has CWD, the DNR will release that finding immediately.