By Tom Hauge
On October 1st, I presented testimony to the Joint Committee on the Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) regarding an emergency rule enacted by DNR to strengthen deer farm fencing regulations and regulate the transport of deer carcasses. View a copy of Wisconsin’s Green Fire (WGF) comments to JCRAR.
WGF informed the committee that the rules were based upon sound science. Existing fencing standards were insufficient to prevent animal-to-animal contact across fences. Research has demonstrated that CWD is readily transmitted from animal-to-animal contact and that saliva is one of the most infectious secretions of CWD-positive deer. WGF also informed the committee that deer can become infected through contact with CWD-contaminated environments. Deer carcasses containing the spinal column, brain, lymph and nervous system tissues from CWD-positive deer are a source of contamination.
WGF also provided the following recommendations to JCRAR: 1) Please work to provide sufficient funding in the next state budget to fully fund indemnification payments that would allow for immediate depopulation of CWD-positive deer farms. Allowing such farms to operate increases CWD-contamination on that farm and puts the surrounding wild deer herd at unnecessary risk.; 2) Ensure that by the 2019 deer season that every Wisconsin hunting has a landfill or incineration option available to properly dispose of their deer remains. Many hunters do not have proper disposal options available and this leads to improper disposal.
Unfortunately, JCRAR did not let the full rule stand. They suspended the carcass transport part of the rule for 2018-19 deer seasons. While it was encouraging to hear most committee members express support for doing more to deal with CWD, it was clear that many members did not have a good understanding of this disease. Much more education needed.
Tom Hauge is Chair of Wisconsin’s Green Fire’s Wildlife Work Group