Friday, April 15, 2016

Scott Walker serving up the Deer Hunter treat: Diseased Venison

Long before Scott Walker destroyed and basically dismantled the DNR, he went out and hired a game farm advocate to break Wisconsin away from our traditional deer management practices to hunter driven policy based on demand and pet peeves. 

This can be a serious problem when you're trying to control the spread of chronic wasting disease. Anyone want to eat venison contaminated with it?

I've been blogging about this for some time (search CWD in the upper left corner). We're now faced with a nearly out-of-control problem.WPR:
More Wisconsin deer are testing positive for chronic wasting disease ... more than 9
percent, according to state figures. But the number of deer being tested is down from years past ... 3,138 deer, down from 5,465 in 2014. The situation has some lawmakers arguing that the governor and DNR should be more active in fighting the problem.

DNR Wildlife Management Bureau director Tom Hauge (said) hunters didn’t have to visit a deer registration station last hunting season ... (do to) electronic registration system ... funding for testing has also decreased since the disease was first discovered in 2002.
Would you Eat CWD infected Deer? Sure, why not...
A team of researchers from universities in the United States and France say they’ve found new evidence that it’s possible for humans to contract the agents that cause CWD. They injected mice, whose DNA had been modified to resemble humans, with mutated proteins called prions. Testing showed two out of 20 mice tested positive for prion infection.

But former Wisconsin Natural Resources Board Member Dave Clausen advised the results are not cause for alarm. "This study does not mean that human infection is a foregone conclusion," Clausen said. "All it does is demonstrate that it is possible."
That's all it does. Feel better?

Democratic criticism Politics, or actual Criticism? And while Democrats want to deal with this and other problems, they're not being taken seriously, because well they're...the "left." Scott Walker said as much, when he lied about the states commitment, and redefined the Democrats honest fact based criticism as gotcha politics:
Walker said science will drive future deer management decisions – not politics. Walker said the state is committed to a healthy deer herd: "We’re ready and willing to hear their recommendations. They made a call to be more aggressive, but they didn’t give us specifics. If they’ve got specific ideas, we’d be more than happy to work with them or anybody else."
No specifics? Oh god where do we start unpacking that load of BS? First let's see what Walker has done "specifically," besides propose leaving road kill to rot on the side our state highways:
1. The DNR has half the CWD testing budget it had last year.

2. Last year the DNR stopped using the term “CWD management zone” … “In the absence of having any management strategies or tools to deal with it, it is basically an endemic area … endemic means: It’s here to stay.”

3. George Meyer, a former DNR secretary said, “It is going to spread further and further out and eventually ... biologists in the department ... are not allowed to talk about it and not allowed to bring forth proactive measures to deal with it.”

4. The agency will solicit samples at only two locations in southern Wisconsin ... down from between 15 and 20 locations in recent years.

5. Janesville Gazette Xtra: Wisconsin deer farmers can opt out of the state's chronic wasting disease monitoring program without upgrading their fences under an emergency rule the state DNR adopted Wednesday despite concerns the move could spread the disease ... spare deer farmers extra expenses. The DNR recorded 29 escapes this year (2015) alone ... "The DNR fencing requirement is the last safeguard to prevent further CWD contamination of the wild deer herd," Meyer said.

6. Walker says Gov. Jim Doyle and the DNR have engaged in "political games" and "put bureaucrats in Madison ahead of hunters of the state."

7. Trustee Dr. James Kroll said people who call for more public hunting opportunities are “pining for socialism.” He further states, “(Public) Game management is the last bastion of communism.”

8. AP: A state board voted to limit a new law ... The Sporting Heritage Bill ... expanding hunting rights in state parks ... after Wisconsin residents said they wouldn't feel safe ... DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said the board should remember that lawmakers passed the law with the intent that hunting be expanded. “Ours is not to debate what the elected officials decided,” she said.
As for the Democrats offering specific ways to deal with CWD? Well, other state's are doing just the opposite of Scott Walker:
1. DNR Is Unlikely To Act As Deer Herd Faces Possible Starvation: Minnesota Starts Emergency Deer Feeding Fund, But Wisconsin's DNR Can't Follow Suit Without Legislative Approval.

2. In Illinois, where officials continued to reduce the herd in diseased areas, there has been no increase, University of Illinois researchers found in a 2014 study. The prevalence of the disease is much lower in northern Illinois, where targeted sharpshooting has been used by Illinois wildlife officials since 2002. The prevalence rate is under 1% in Illinois' 12-county CWD area. In 2007, the DNR defended the use of sharpshooters as an "efficient and effective tool in reducing deer numbers and removing diseased deer," because the shooters were killing more antlerless deer than hunters were.


  1. This part of the WPR story made my jaw hit the floor:

    According to the DNR's Hauge, research shows the prevalence and spread of CWD increased during the state’s more aggressive approach to managing the deer herd. The state once used longer seasons, liberal bag limits and sharpshooting for a limited period of time to prevent the spread of CWD.

    "We were unable with the level of pressure that we were able to put on the deer herd to reduce that," he said.

    Yes, the CWD rate did increase when we were actually, ya know, managing it, but not anywhere near the rate of increase we're seeing now. There were political/perception problems with the culling/sharpshooting, but to dismiss it as ineffective is nonsense.

    Here are the historical CWD rates:
    2001 - 0.3%
    2002 - 0.5%
    2003 - 0.8%
    2004 - 0.8%
    2005 - 0.7%
    2006 - 0.7%
    2007 - 1.5%
    ***Stopped culling and went surveillance-only in 2007***
    2008 - 1.5%
    2009 - 2.5%
    2010 - 2.9%
    ***Deer "Czar" appointed in 2011***
    2011 - 4.5%
    2012 - 5.1%
    2013 - 5.4%
    2014 - 6.1%
    2015 - 9.4%

    DNR doesn't make it easy, but you can pull CWD data 1 yr at a time here:$year.startup?z_chk=0

  2. I should have mentioned that as well. The fact that we had a handle on the large number of infected deer regionally, fighting the disease, sure beats blissfully skipping along our merry way thinking things might be improving or is no big deal. Yes, ignorance is bliss for our new DNR and deer czar.

  3. CWD may be hereditary in Wisconsin's wild deer population (i.e., infected doe passes this prion disease to fetus through the placenta). But ask yourself: Who would benefit by having an infected population of wild deer? (Potential answers: prion disease researchers? Deer farm owners?)

    This fatal, transmissible neurodegenerative prion disease (which is like "mad cow" disease among cervids) spreads fastest among captive herds.

    If CWD is -- or becomes -- a hereditary fatal disease in Wisconsin's wild deer, I imagine that means CWD will keep killing our wild deer as well as deer on "hunting preserves" -- but deer farm owners can simply re-populate with some more deer from deer farms in other states! And our deer farm owners can now opt out of any DNR "management" agreement? Thus "captive deer" will continue to "escape" and infect any surviving wild deer in Wisconsin.

    Infectious prions are in the urine, feces, saliva, etc. -- and in the decomposing carcasses of infected deer. Prions remain infectious in soil or grass growing in infected soil -- which means a healthy deer that eats prion-infected grass can get infected.

    The "hunting preserve" (i.e., deer farm) business the DATCP is so happy with can potentially remain lucrative, as CWD & hunters kill those deer, and as owners repopulate their deer farms in a vicious cycle that's only good for the national/international deer farm business.

    (If anyone is still following this rant, take note: DATCP may also pay big $$$bucks to deer farm owners if their captive herd is so obviously sick it has to be culled.)

    DNR knew this in 2000: CWD is an infectious, fatal disease that can spread from deer farms, but the state of WI did test deer farms regularly, nor did the state warn anyone about this disease until last December, when a Journal-Sentinel article quoted unnamed health officials saying they "did not recommend humans consume meat from a CWD-positive animal."
    What is it with diseases and WI's current CAFO-loving, CWD-spreading DNR?

  4. DNR was not managing (or presumably testing) captive, deer farm herds...DATCP was in charge of health of deer farms. I do not think DNR tested farmed herds.

  5. My recommendation to Walker: look at DATCP -- your agency that was supposed to be ensuring healthy and fenced-in herds on deer farms:$year.actionquery?p_cwd_year=2016&z_action=&z_chk=0

  6. Here's where this deer farming leads:

    Michigan is one of six states where Arby’s will begin testing venison sandwiches by the end of the month, the company announced Tuesday.

    "Hunters hunt the meats, and we have the meats, so it makes sense for us to connect with them and offer a sandwich that they can't get at any other restaurant chain," said Rob Lynch, Chief Marketing Officer and Brand President of Arby's Restaurant Group, Inc."

    So "hunters" supply Arby's? Not really.

    "The company sources free-range farmed deer that feed on fresh grass, according to a news release."

    Wisconsin too.