Weather Authority Alert

Deer Numbers Down, Questions Remain

By: Justin Williams
By: Justin Williams

Progress is being made in the effort to rid Wisconsin of a deadly disease. Monday, the state's Department of Natural Resources released a report indicating some progress in the eradication of Chronic Wasting Disease, but plenty of questions remain.

"This is the aerial survey data," says Dr. Robert Rolley as he examines the DNR's images. The Population Ecologist says this year's deer herd is estimated at 28 per square mile in the eradication zone, down 20 percent from last year's estimate of 35, and a full 40 percent since the effort to eradicate Chronic Wasting Disease began three years ago.

"If we can kill as many deer as possible each year, and reduce the population, we can sorta get ahead of the disease transmission process," explains Dr. Rolley.

But, while Dr. Rolley claims the reduced deer population indicates a response to the DNR's management efforts, he concedes, the department's success is marked by continuing questions, beginning with the aforementioned transmission.

"We're actually doing this with the best information that we have, we think we're doing the best that we can to try to control the disease, but there are unknowns, you know, like, 'How is the disease transmitted?'"
asks Alan Crossley, a CWD Project Leader.

Crossley says it's still too early to even determine whether or not the disease is still spreading, only that it's prevalence is not increasing. He also explains, an effective eradication may require 15, or more, years of continued study, posing a question of his own.

"Will hunters in Wisconsin, will landowners in Wisconsin, will politicians in Wisconsin, will administrators in Wisconsin, will they be able to have the patience that we think is necessary for us to really say, 'Are we being successful or not?'"

The DNR says there are currently 34 different research projects taking place in Wisconsin alone.

Also of not, in July, Madison will host the Second International Chronic Wasting Disease Symposium.

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