Eyes look north to deer disease

Springfield – Illinois is carefully monitoring chronic wasting
disease as Wisconsin wildlife officials say that cases of the
disease there are increasing.

Because of the proximity of their respective CWD “hot spots,”
the two states appear to be in this anxious situation together.

“We’ve always said that if they fail we fail, and if we fail
they fail,” said Tom Micetich, DNR deer program manager. “We’re
really concerned about what is happening in_Wisconsin, because
their concentration of CWD cases are not far from our
concentration.”

Unlike Wisconsin, which has done little in the way of managing
CWD, Illinois has made attempts to limit the spread of the disease
since it was discovered in Winnebago County in 2002. As of July 22,
Illinois had reported a total of 257 positive CWD cases in seven
counties, including 30 new cases in 2009. The 2009 counties with
positive CWD cases are Boone (9), DeKalb (4), McHenry (4), Ogle (1)
and Winnebago (12).

Over a seven-year period, Winnebago has had the most positive
cases with 109. Boone County has the second-highest total with
95.

Winnebago and Boone both border Wisconsin, where its DNR this
month reported that the CWD prevalence rate for adult bucks 21/2
years or older in western Dane County and eastern Iowa County
increased from 10 percent in 2007 to 15.5 percent last year. The
infection rate for yearling bucks increased from 3 percent to 6
percent.

CWD was discovered in wild deer in southern Wisconsin in
February 2002._Wisconsin DNR has tested about 152,000 deer and
found 1,172 positive cases.

“They have done a lot of testing but haven’t really gotten into
managing it,” Micetich said.

In Illinois, officials have added a special CWD deer hunting
season to assist in controlling the spread of the disease in the
herd. Under advisement of a joint task force on deer population
control, the state has extended the CWD seasons for 2009-10 in
select northern Illinois counties.

The seven-day season will be on the same dates as the expanded
late-winter season, which this year will fall on Dec. 31 to Jan. 3,
2010, and Jan. 15-17, 2010. The counties open for the CWD season
will be Boone, McHenry, Winnebago and DeKalb counties and the
portion of Kane County west of State Route 47.

Last year, hunters harvested 12,525 deer during the late-winter
and the special chronic wasting disease season, compared to the
harvest of 12,433 during 2007-08.

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