3 adult bucks remain at large from dozen that escaped Eau Claire County CWD-postiive deer farm
Wisconsin Outdoor News confirmed this morning, Tuesday, Sept. 15, that rumors of deer escaping from the Eau Claire County deer farm where a CWD-positive deer was discovered in June of this year was true. Dr. Paul McGraw, the Wisconsin state veterinarian, confirmed the report earlier this morning, saying 12 2-year-old bucks had escaped from Fairchild Whitetail, a deer farm owned by Rick Vojtik. The deer were reported missing Sept. 9, according to McGraw. Nine of the bucks have been captured since then, but three of the bucks are still unaccounted for.
In June when the initial CWD-positive deer was found, 167 deer lived on the 12-acre farm. Vojtik, who also owns a shooting game farm, American Adventures Ranch, that caters to high-fence hunters, said he expected his farm would be depopulated as a result of the discovery. When asked the current status of the farm and why the farm had not been depopulated, McGraw responded by email, saying there was no change in the current status of the farm, which had been quarantined and that federal indemnity funds used to pay farmers fair market value for the deer were not available this fiscal year.
Of special concern is the recent release of 23 elk captured in Kentucky and recently released in Jackson County east of Black River Falls in an effort to establish another elk herd in Wisconsin. The elk release site and the CWD-infected deer farm in Eau Claire County where the escapes took place are about 33 miles apart. Originally 26 elk were captured, but seven died and four calves were born, which resulted in the release of 23 elk. The goal is a herd of 400 elk in the western Wisconsin herd. Wisconsin has a five-year agreement with Kentucky to export 150 elk to Wisconsin.