Bayfield County Whitetail Could Test Positive For CWD

By KBJR News 1

November 15, 2010 Updated Nov 15, 2010 at 10:42 PM CDT

ASHLAND, WI (The Northland's NewsCenter) - Three Miles from the Twin Creek Hunting Preserve, Neil Sickich is growing concerned.

On Sunday afternoon, Wisconsin DNR officials personally notified Sickich that a white–tail buck from the area he hunts was likely infected with Chronic Wasting Disease... a fatal disease in deer, and a disease that could be dangerous to humans.

"They want everybody's help, but whose mess is it?" questions Sickich, who lives five miles south of Ashland in rural Bayfield County.

"Hunters are going to have to get their stuff checked now – they know that."

Officials from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture are currently testing tissue samples from the animal at a Federal Lab in Ames, Iowa.

They say it's the second round of testing just to be sure.

"The worst–case scenario would be that that deer was positive for CWD, and that CWD has spread to wild deer," says Fred Strand, Wisconsin's lead DNR biologist in charge of monitoring the situation.

Since Wisconsin's rifle deer hunting season starts this weekend, Strand is imploring area hunters to help his agency in checking area deer for the disease.

"We want to collect samples from a 10-mile radius from this deer farm," Strand said. "And we will have three of our registration stations, the one at Ashland, Washburn, and Ino ready to meet hunters ready to collect samples from their deer."

Strand went on to say the samples are needed to confirm the presence of CWD in the surrounding fields and farmland.

However, other State Officials are tight–lipped about the specifics of the situation, including how the infected deer surfaced at the farm, when it died, and if more deer in the surrounding area could be infected.

"We have an initial indication of CWD and we really can't get into the specifics of what's happening in that facility until we're sure what we have," said Lee Sensenbrenner, who works for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture and is monitoring the tests.

"Once we have the test confirmation, we can probably answer a lot more of your questions," he said.

However, neighbor Neil Sickich said DNR representatives told him that a hole in the fence of the Twin Creek Hunting Preserve had been detected over two weeks ago when the preserve was recently sold.

Sickich said he believes that means a greater chance for infected animals in the surrounding area.

"It's a mess!" Sickich said, summarizing the situation.

And while the state's test results won't be until at least Wednesday, DNR officials say huntersin the Ashland area should be prepared for a season that could include CWD.

Posted by Matt Standal