Is testing car-killed deer for CWD too obvious?
Posted: Tue Jun 11, 2002 7:35 pm
When the call came in to the Leader office with that suggestion last week it was like, well, duh…why didn't we think of that? Or, more appropriately, why didn't the Department of Natural Resources think of it? Okay, so they did…sort of. But we don't think their response was adequate.<p> The discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in fewer than 20 deer in a small portion of southern Wisconsin in recent months has caused an uproar of epic proportions throughout the state. Whether or not the uproar is warranted, we're uncertain. We've heard conflicting views from Colorado, where the disease was first discovered several years ago. One side says that, if they had addressed the issue as aggressively as Wisconsin is attempting to, it wouldn't be east of the Mississippi River today. The other side claims it's not that big a deal in Colorado and wonders why we're raising such a fuss.<p> The DNR wants to kill all the deer in the portion of the state where the infected deer have been found, and to test all the deer that hunters kill in a sizeable area of the southern part of the state. Limitations on labs available will keep deer from being tested in the rest of Wisconsin, leaving many hunters concerned over whether the deer they kill will be safe to consume. Also, a recent poll indicates that, because of the discovery of CWD, as many as 36% of deer hunters may not participate this year. That will only further add to the problems. The deer harvest will be reduced, fewer deer will be tested, and pocketbooks will be affected throughout the state.<p> But there is a way that the DNR can test deer statewide, all year long, and it won't stress testing labs like it will when the flood of animals comes in during hunting seasons. Simply use some of the federal money that has been allocated to fight the disease to work with the State Department of Transportation to pick up car-killed deer and have them tested. Our highways provide a ready supply of test animals that will be there, regardless of hunting seasons. Removing them for test purposes would also clean up an unsightly problem along our roadsides that developed when the state stopped removing car-killed deer several years ago.<p> The DNR, however, says that deer need to be "fresh" in order to do proper testing. That's difficult, especially during the summer. A problem, perhaps, but not insurmountable. Most insurance companies require notification of proper law enforcement authorities for deer/car crash claims. Requiring immediate notification is not that difficult and we believe most motorists and law enforcement agencies would be cooperative. Many, if not most, road kills could be picked up in a timely fashion. It's certainly better than sitting on our hands and waiting for the fall hunting season.<p> Certainly, it's not the only step necessary in fighting CWD. But it does seem like such an obvious effort that does not rely on universal support from a million or so hunters. And the results of findings on animals tested all year long, throughout the state, could be invaluable in determining steps necessary during the hunting season to keep our herd healthy, along with our hunting traditions.