Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Holes’ found in state quarantine plan

Editor

Manitowoc, Wis. One Manitowoc County sportsman claims the state
Department of Natural Resources and Department of Agriculture are
not doing enough to ensure that quarantined game farms are truly
quarantined after he did some checking into deer farm audits and
fence inspections.

Larry Bonde if Kiel is chairman of the Manitowoc County
Conservation Congress delegation and he also is a member of the
Manitowoc County Fish and Game Protective Association. Lest anyone
thinks Bonde is picking on captive wildlife farmers, he points out
that he is employed by a captive wildlife farm.

Bonde made open records request from the DNR and Ag, then
started compiling information as part of a report to the county
association. As the information started flowing in, Bonde realized
he needed help. He’s now working with the Manitowoc County Soil and
Water Office, which is doing the mapping for the association’s
report.

Bonde started compiling the report in advance of the April 23
Natural Resources Board meeting, at which he testified on behalf of
the Manitowoc County Fish and Game Protective Association. As of
the deadline for this issue, Bonde also planned on attending the
May 14 Madison Senate and Assembly joint hearing on the DNR’s
proposed permanent CWD rule.

“I was totally shocked at what I found at how many farms don’t
have any health care. No health records, no disease testing, no
visits from vets,” Bonde said. “I was also shocked that the
quarantined herds that Ag doesn’t take a look at the fences. I was
surprised by the poor conditions of the fences on the Sperber and
Krueger farms.”

The Gene Sperber farm in the town of Newton has been quarantined
because a 6-year-old cow elk was found to be positive for CWD (see
related story on page 4 of this issue).

The Herb Krueger farm in the town of Eaton has been quarantined
for trace-backs to Sperber’s farm.

Bonde said another farm with trace-backs to the Sperber farm is
a commercial elk farm, and that fence has never been inspected.

Bonde said DNR conservation warden audits of the Sperber and
Krueger fences found gaps at the bottom of the fences last fall,
before the positive cow elk was found on Sperber’s farm. The audits
also indicate that in some areas the fences were no higher than
four and six feet above the ground. Bonde said those heights would
allow wild whitetails to enter both captive herds. Bonde’s records
show that DNR wardens shot eight wild whitetails that were in
Krueger’s elk pens.

According to Bonde, last fall Sperber was on a Green Bay TV
station news show asking the public to watch for elk that escaped
his farm.

Based on his records search, Bonde has found that 10 of
Manitowoc County’s 29 captive wildlife farms have had escapes.
These farms raise elk, whitetails or fallow deer.

“On two farms, there were wild deer found in with captive elk
and fallow deer,” he said. “I was surprised by the poor conditions
of the fences on some of the farms.

Bonde credits his interest in the captive wildlife industry in
Manitowoc County to his volunteer work with the Conservation
Congress and the county’s wildlife association, his job on a deer
farm, and his interest as a deer hunter.

“I asked for the records because of disease problems in this
county with five bovine TB cases and recent quarantines for CWD.
And I also knew of an illegal whitetail release of nine deer from
another farm in the county. So then I started looking into it.”

Bonde reported his findings to conservation alliances in the
neighboring counties of Brown, Calumet and Sheboygan. Each of those
three conservation alliances wrote Bonde letters endorsing his
efforts, and asked him to speak on their behalf, as well, at any
CWD hearings.

“Of the 29 farms in our county, only eight are enrolled in the
state’s CWD monitoring program,” he said.

“With what I’ve found, it tells me that, first of all, this
business of Ag and DNR working together evidently isn’t getting to
all levels because Ag had no knowledge of the DNR’s game warden
deer farm audit.

“Somehow, the state’s quarantine efforts have to go beyond just
restricting animal movement and have to take a real close look at
these fence situations,” he added.

“When I talked to someone in Madison about this, they said this
is what happens from years of neglect by the DNR, Ag and
Legislature with the deer farm industry. Now they have to play
catch-up.

“I’m not going to give up until I know something is being done.
This shows just how vulnerable our wildlife populations are to
disease issues. I would challenge people in every county to do an
open records search with Ag and DNR to see what their captive
cervid farms are up to,” Bonde said.

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