Rosholt deer herd quarantined for ties to chronic wasting

Associated Press

Wausau, Wis. A Rosholt deer herd was placed under quarantine
after an animal sold from it tested positive for chronic wasting
disease (CWD), according to the Wisconsin Department of
Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

No other animals on the farm of Don and Patty Schnell have
tested positive, but stringent precautions are being taken
nonetheless, said Donna Gilson, spokeswoman for the state
department.

“All the quarantine does at this stage of the game is stop any
movement of live animals off that farm while we sort things out,”
Gilson said. “If there turns out to be no chance of exposure (the
length of quarantine) can be just a few weeks, anywhere up to a few
months to several years, depending on the outcome.”

An epidemiologist visited the Schnell farm to begin
investigating the possible source of the disease, which attacks the
central nervous system of the animal.

The deer was sold to an Almond hunting preserve and tested
positive after being shot on the preserve. Despite the infected
animal being traced to the farm, Patty Schnell said she’s confident
no other animals are infected. She was surprised to learn that a
deer from her farm had tested positive, she said.

“I don’t believe it’s in my pen, in our pens,” she said. “We had
four other deer tested that that buck was in the same pen with
(and) all four of them came back negative.”

In an unrelated case, state agriculture officials said that a
white-tailed deer that died on a Crawford County game farm had
chronic wasting disease, making it the first deer with the ailment
found in far western Wisconsin. The 19-month-old buck was part of a
herd of about 40 deer owned by Curtis Christenson, of Eastman. The
state quarantined the herd last week.

The potential economic impact of the quarantine is a concern,
Schnell said, as is the care and concern the family feels for its
deer herd. Schnell declined to say how many deer live on the
farm.

The state has tested between 10,000 and 11,000 farm-raised deer
since testing became mandated in 2002, and only 28 on seven farms
have tested positive, Gilson said. To keep the risk of CWD low,
quarantines, testing, and strict fencing regulations are
enforced.

“Deer farms are probably some of the most regulated farms in the
state these days,” Gilson said. “We have done our best, and some
deer farmers would say we have done too much, to kind of stem any
tide (of CWD).”

A farm generally is considered CWD-free after having no positive
tests for five years, Gilson said.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
handles captive deer herds in the state, while the DNR is in charge
of CWD concerns in wild herds.

“It’s not something that’s going to be done overnight,” said
Dave Weitz, public affairs manager for the DNR West-Central Region.
“We’ve done probably the most extensive testing of deer that’s ever
been done for CWD it is a priority for the Wisconsin DNR and it’s a
priority for the Wisconsin DATCP and, of course, for everybody who
cares about deer in this state.”

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