DNR steps up CWD tracking efforts with collection kiosks
In further effort to track the presence or possible spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) recently launched a kiosk collection initiative.
As wildlife biologist Carissa Freeh explains, the wooden 3’ x 3’ kiosks have been placed at the Merrill Ranger Station and LeMay Forestry Center in Tomahawk as a convenient means for hunters to submit deer heads for CWD testing.
“The kiosks are another method we are offering for the public to further assist us with monitoring CWD in Lincoln County,” Freeh said. “They are easily accessible and available 24/7 for hunters to simply visit either the ranger station here in Merrill or the LeMay Forestry Center, fill out some very brief information on a data tag – such as their name, where the deer was harvested and so on – then drop the head of their harvested deer in the kiosk and we proceed from there.”
Once dropped off, the heads are collected from both sites and sent for processing at a center in Black Earth, Wis. From there, they are submitted for testing at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Madison. Hunters are notified of the results of testing, whether their deer tests positive or not. Results are generally available within two weeks of submission.
Freeh stresses the importance of public assistance with the CWD monitoring program, citing the discovery of a positive CWD test locally coming as a result of a voluntary submission in 2017.
“The DNR has maintained CWD surveillance since the disease was first discovered in 2002,” she said. “In our local area, we have always offered the option of voluntary testing by hunters interested in having their deer tested, and we have continued to take advantage of opportunities to test sick deer. It was by means of a voluntary submission from a hunter during the 2017 gun deer season, that we discovered our first locally CWD positive deer near the Lincoln-Oneida county line. Then this past March, a second wild-positive was discovered just across the county line in southeastern Oneida County. Since these discoveries we have gotten more aggressive with sampling and surveillance. We aim to gauge how widespread the disease is, locate any newly infected deer and determine the area where any newly infected deer are residing. Without that hunter willingly submitting that deer for testing last year, we may have never made the discovery. Public assistance with our monitoring of this disease is so important vet much appreciated.”
In the event hunters would rather not drop off deer heads, such as desiring to keep the head for mounting, Freeh and biologist Janet Brehm are more than happy to schedule appointments to meet hunters and remove the lymph nodes from the deer head on-site for testing, and return the head to the hunter. Skull capping is also permissible, as the removal of antlers will not negatively impact testing.
Another method the DNR has implement to further their CWD monitoring program is enlisting the assistance of local businesses as “cooperators.” One local cooperator is Geiss Meat Service. When dropping off deer for processing, hunters can also drop off deer heads for testing, Geiss Meat Service has been issued all documentation necessary for testing submission.
“We are working to increase surveillance efforts in the areas immediately surrounding where the CWD wild positives were discovered,” Freeh adds. “The more hunters we have willing to assist with our surveillance efforts and submit heads for testing, the more effectively we can monitor the presence of CWD in Lincoln County.”
Freeh can be reached at 608-220-1817 or via email Carissa.Freeh@Wisconsin.gov. Wildlife Biologist Janet Brehm can be reached at 715-409-3277 or via email at Janet.Brehm@Wisconsin.gov.