Tag Archives: CWD

Outdoor Writer Compares: Wisconsin Sporting Freedom Act to a Bag of Stale Air

I’m sharing a post from Patrick Durkin Outdoors because his writing is a breath of fresh air. Durkin proves the written word is mightier than a conservative advocacy group, Hunter Nation, that has been “misguiding” the narrative regarding hunting ethics. He has managed to prey open a door that’s been warped overtime from lack of use. Let’s just name it here; common sense!

Durkin not only brings in fresh air to a “stale air” narrative, but unlocks the door with proven facts. I agree wholeheartedly with him that it’s time to get busy and focus on solutions to CWD, a problem facing Wisconsin’s white-tailed deer population!

I’ve witnessed over the last ten years how groups like Hunter Nation can skew reality to their advantage. This is not just a problem of the opposition, it’s a fast growing concern for all advocates on both sides, because of groups that are controlling the narrative by spreading misinformation to gain followers. We have lost precious ground when it comes to solving problems that affect Wisconsin’s natural resources because of these political tricks. But Durkin has reminded us of how easily we can get off the reality tracks! Read on!

Despite such dismal numbers (CWD), GOP lawmakers are ignoring the mess by distracting everyone with the Wisconsin Sporting Freedom Act. This bag of stale air from the Kansas-based group Hunter Nation doesn’t even mention CWD.” Patrick Durkin Outdoors

Wisconsin Lawmakers: End the Frolic with Hunter Nation, by Patrick Durkin Outdoors

Wisconsin this month fortified its standing as the capital of the world for chronic wasting disease by verifying the plague in wild deer in 38 of the state’s 72 counties.

Yep, Wisconsin now has more counties with CWD in free-ranging deer than it does counties without. We passed the halfway mark Jan. 11 when the Department of Natural Resources reported two adult bucks in Monroe County and one deer in Oconto County tested positive for the always-fatal disease.

We started the 2021 hunting seasons with CWD in 34 counties but made it 35 when the DNR confirmed a sick adult doe Oct. 29 in Fond du Lac County. We then reached the halfway point Dec. 12 when the DNR confirmed a sick yearling (18 months old) buck in Vilas County.

And just think what we’d find if we searched aggressively for CWD. All four newly christened CWD counties found their first cases despite modest sampling efforts. Hunters in Monroe County have provided a respectable 373 samples during the current testing year, but hunters in Oconto provided only 162; Vilas, 161; and Fond du Lac, 105.

The 2021 sampling year ends March 31, but it’s safe to report that 25 Wisconsin counties will end the year with less than 100 samples tested, given the hunt is largely over.

As of Jan.15, Wisconsin has confirmed 9,450 CWD cases since discovering the disease in three deer shot west of Madison in November 2001. The DNR has documented 1,283 cases statewide so far this year after testing 16,165 samples. That’s 8% of all tests, which is similar to 2020’s rate.

CWD sampling declined this past fall, with 2,749 fewer samples (-14.5%) statewide than in 2020 (18,914). Most samples come from the DNR’s southern farmland zone, where sampling fell 22% from 9,382 a year ago to 7,277.

Despite the decline, 1,234 deer (17%) have tested positive so far in that zone, which is 4 percentage points lower than the 2020 total. For perspective, when the DNR tested similar numbers (7,097 deer) in the Southern farmlands in 2010, it found 219 (3%) CWD cases, or 5.6 times fewer doomed deer.

Elsewhere, CWD cases more than doubled from 19 to 39 in central Wisconsin’s farmlands this year, accounting for 40% of the zone’s historical total of 98 cases. In addition, deer baiting is now banned in 58 Wisconsin counties. The 14 counties where the controversial practice remains are Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, Iron, Sawyer, Rusk, Price, St. Croix, Pierce, Lincoln, Brown, Manitowoc, Kewaunee and Door.

Iowa County again leads the state with 315 cases this year, or 31% of the 1,026 samples provided. Next was Richland, 270 cases (21% positive); Sauk, 222 (25%); Dane, 151 (17%); Grant, 80 (14%); and Columbia, 72 (15%).

Cooperation from hunters remains poor as indifference reigns. In Sauk County, hunters tested only 15% of the 6,002 deer they registered during the 2021 gun, crossbow and archery seasons. Further, Dane County hunters tested 23.5% of 3,833 registered deer; Richland County, 24% of 5,228; Iowa County, 28% of 3,607; Grant County, 0.09% of 6,176; and Columbia County, 0.08% of 6,007.

A soon-to-be released DNR survey from 2019 also found that 70% of Wisconsin hunters have never submitted a deer for CWD testing. The survey also found that 33% of hunters who get their deer tested don’t wait for results before eating it.

Despite such dismal numbers, GOP lawmakers are ignoring the mess by distracting everyone with the Wisconsin Sporting Freedom Act. This bag of stale air from the Kansas-based group Hunter Nation doesn’t even mention CWD.

We pause here to ask, “Sporting Freedom Act”? What is that? Do politicians think they can just insert “freedom” in a bill’s title, and we’ll snap to attention and salute? As silly as “freedom fries” sounded in February 2003, at least the word choice made sense. You’ll recall folks were mad at France for not supporting the war in Iraq, and urged restaurants to purge “French” from their menus.

Again I ask: Sporting Freedom Act? Freedom from what? Science? Biology? A future for deer hunting in Wisconsin?

If you think that’s harsh, explain how mandating the annual raising and releasing of 200,000 pheasants and 100,000 brook trout is relevant to liberty and freedom, or wise fish and wildlife management?

And how about the act’s “turkey hunting simplification” bill? Luke Hilgemann, CEO/president of Hunter Nation, recently wrote that our current spring turkey season confuses Wisconsin hunters. Really? Name someone who’s puzzled. True, our current season of six weeklong hunting periods might baffle your average lobbyist, state senator, assembly-creature, and Gov. Scott Walker’s four appointees to the Natural Resources Board. But Wisconsin’s spring season wins praise from 70% to 80% of turkey hunters surveyed annually.

Another bill in the “Freedom Act” infuriates many retired conservation wardens and the Wisconsin Hunter Education Instructor Association. The Mentored Hunt Bill (SB-611 and AB-670) would allow beginning hunters to earn their hunter-education certificate by simply taking an online course and then going afield with a licensed adult hunter, not a certified instructor.

Yes, that shortcut was allowed the past year because of COVID-19, and it sounded OK the first time I read it, but I was wrong. It doesn’t deserve our Legislature’s permanent blessing.

Hilgemann also recently wrote: “Hunting … in Wisconsin is a sacred tradition (and the Freedom Act sends) a strong message about our heritage and way of life. Not only does the Wisconsin Sporting Freedom Act reform rules for hunters and anglers, it helps ensure that future generations still have access to the resources that help these sacred traditions thrive through proactive resource management.”

Huh? You’ll find more substance in a bag of cheetos. Hunter Nation and its GOP backers insult Wisconsin’s hunting heritage by ignoring all the work of recent decades that made hunting so safe.

The WHEIA notes that conservation wardens annually investigated 174 hunting accidents, including 17 deaths, from 1956 to 1966 in Wisconsin. The state’s hunter education program began in 1967. Since then, over 17,000 volunteer instructors helped reduce those numbers to an annual average of 21 accidents and 1.8 deaths.

Y’know, we don’t need Hunter Nation messing with our programs. It’s time GOP lawmakers stop frolicking with these amateurs and get serious about addressing CWD and other obvious challenges to our natural resources.

That won’t happen, however, if hunters, anglers and trappers don’t hold lawmakers accountable with emails, letters, phone calls and votes.

Hunter Nation exposed this Legislature’s scarcity of thinkers and leaders. They must be told what to do.

Graphic Design “Ally of the Grey Wolf” by Rachel Tilseth

The remarkable Canis lupus (Gray Wolf) …

…Designed by Mother Nature herself.

A gray wolf walks over to a vacated white-tailed deer bed and gently blows on it. This causes all the particles to flow up into his/hers highly tuned olfactory system (the nose). “Ah ha, says the wolf,” the deer tick’s blood is full of pus from a tooth infection. The deer tick had feasted on the white-tailed deer’s blood the night before. The deer tick’s blood now reveals a sick (unhealthy) animal. This shows how the gray wolf keeps the white-tailed deer herds healthy. This is nature’s design, original, and most certainly not man made. There’s-no-big-bad-wolf-here…only politicians with agendas…

Let’s save the Gray wolf because he/she saves us (human-kind) in the end. In the past, less than a hundred years ago, vast herds roamed throughout the planet. The vast herds were wiped out by trophy hunting & human encroachment, and now live in small pockets of wilderness surrounded by human settlements. In these small pockets animals are forced to share habitats, and just think about the consequences of different kinds of ticks eating & spreading disease all on the same animals; Animals that are isolated in pockets of wilderness surrounded by human settlements. Then, there’s Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) that if left unchecked could potentially spread to humans through infected deer. We need more research on how gray wolves help stop the spread of CWD.

The planet needs Canis lupus (Gray wolf) and other large carnivores. Large carnivores can detect diseased and weak animals.

How might wolves affect chronic wasting disease in elk and deer in Colorado? The following is from Colorado State University Extention

…One study developed a mathematical model predicting that selective predation by wolves would result in a more rapid decline in CWD in deer compared to hunting by humans…


Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a contagious and fatal neurological disease found in deer, elk, and moose.  It is caused by the transmission of an abnormal protein called a prion.  CWD is relatively widespread in Colorado.

Wolves are predators that chase prey. Wolves tend to target slower, more vulnerable individuals, including sick and diseased animals. One study developed a mathematical model predicting that selective predation by wolves would result in a more rapid decline in CWD in deer compared to hunting by humans. The model suggested that wolf predation may help limit CWD. There has been no field study to test this prediction. However, wolf predation has been shown to help control disease (tuberculosis) in wild boar in Spain.

Insight can be gained from other predators. Studies in the Front Range of Colorado showed mule deer killed by mountain lions were more likely to be infected with CWD than mule deer killed by hunters. This suggests that mountain lions select infected animals when targeting adult deer. Such selective predation by mountain lions, however, did not limit CWD transmission in deer populations with high infection rates. Unlike wolves who run when hunting, mountain lions are considered “ambush” predators that sit and wait for prey to pass. Such predatory behavior might make them less likely to detect sick animals compared to wolves.

When carnivores eat infected prey, CWD prions can remain infectious in carnivore feces. But, canines appear to be naturally resistant to prions.7We therefore would not expect the number of prions to increase in their digestive tracts. In fact, CWD prions may be degraded as they pass through the digestive system. While predation may not eliminate CWD from deer or elk populations, predators that selectively prey on infected animals would be expected to reduce the number of infections. This would be more likely in areas where wolves are well-established. Source

People & Wolves Talk Show Host Alex Vaeth Interviewed Adrian Wydeven now on Vimeo

Jill Fritz: Captive hunts increase CWD concerns

 Sounding the alarm against captive breeding farms used for canned hunts can spread fatal diseases.

Jill Fritz: Captive hunts increase CWD concerns Lansing state Journal  August 14, 2015

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has been sounding the alarm over new cases of chronic wasting disease that were found in three free-ranging deer in the state — and rightly so. CWD is a devastating, fatal disease that has no cure, vaccine or treatment. CWD infects deer, elk and other cervids and is spread through abnormal proteins called prions that can be transmitted through saliva, urine and other bodily fluids.

Jill Fritz is the Michigan state director for The Humane Society of the United States.
Jill Fritz is the Michigan state director for The Humane Society of the United States.

Although the DNR has responded to try and prevent the disease from spreading where the three cases were found, much more remains to be done to stop the disease from arriving in entirely new areas.

CWD was first found in Michigan in 2008 on a captive breeding farm, where deer, elk and other animals are raised to sell to captive or “canned” hunts. Animals at these facilities are stocked and shot behind fenced enclosures for guaranteed trophies. These pay-to-slay operations bear no resemblance to traditional hunting, as they lack the core element of “fair chase.” In fact, it’s not uncommon for captive hunts to offer “no kill, no pay” policies or boast about their “100 percent success rates.”

Outspoken musician Ted Nugent even owns a canned hunt in our state. Nugent has publicly defended the illegal killing of Cecil the lion — which, although deplorable – is unsurprising, since he’s pleaded guilty to poaching crimes of his own. Cecil’s death has brought a sinister spotlight to the entire trophy hunting industry — especially canned hunting.

These ranches pose significant risks to our native deer herd, in part because they stock their animals at such unnaturally high densities. This greatly increases the risk of transmitting CWD. Captive hunts also have an ongoing need for fresh animals to shoot, so live animals are often shipped and trucked throughout the state. Because there is no live test for CWD, it’s impossible to know whether the animals entering Michigan are infected.

Unlike other wildlife diseases, the prions that cause CWD can survive in the soil for years — so even if a herd with CWD is completely decimated, any new animals brought onto the land can contract the disease years later. In Wisconsin, where CWD continues to spread, the DNR spent nearly half a million dollars to protect wild herds from coming into contact with contaminated soil.

It’s nearly impossible to control the spread of CWD in wild deer — especially considering our lawmakers’ senseless war against wolves, who improve the health of wild herds by eliminating CWD-infected deer. A healthy wolf population is an economic boon to the state, because wolves prey on the sick deer and act as a firewall against the spread of CWD from other states.

Without a vibrant population of nature’s best defense against this disease, we must commit to an even stronger offense. The first step is making sure that CWD doesn’t enter our state on the back of someone’s truck en route to stocking a canned hunt.

Story Source