CWD in Wisconsin going to eventually lead to fewer deer hunters?
Is this a good time to sell your deer hunting rifle because deer hunting in Wisconsin could soon be “toast” thanks to the continued spread of CWD?
Wisconsin’s own deer czar, Dr. James Kroll, told the Natural Resources Board (NRB) in January 2014 of some reasons to be pessimistic in that respect.
Kroll, in a video message, told the NRB and the rest of Wisconsin that, “It has been my prediction that we are going to begin to see a decline in the white-tailed deer across its range.” He cited several causes for this expected trend, noting a deterioration of habitat, a significant increase of predator populations, and increasing disease.
The disease he mentioned was epizootic hemorrhagic disease and its “cousin,” blue tongue, which he said has devastated deer in many areas, more often in western states, but it has also occurred in Wisconsin.
“With all of these we are starting to see a decline in deer,” Kroll said.
Kroll didn’t specifically mention CWD at that time, but he should have.
Dave Clausen, past NRB chairman and a veterinarian, warns that: “Science shows us that, if left unchecked, CWD will continue to expand geographically.”
For instance, in Wyoming and Colorado, CWD was discovered in mule deer in the mid-1980s. The disease has expanded widely in those states since then. If someone were to look at how it has expanded in Wyoming and Colorado and then compared that with the higher density of white-tailed deer in Wisconsin, the spread of the disease throughout Wisconsin, as is happening now, was and is predictable.
In Area 65 in Wyoming, the spread of CWD, Clausen said, has reduced the deer population by 50 percent since the disease was first discovered. There are very few mature bucks found in that unit these days because they don’t live long enough to grow trophy antlers.
In Rocky Mountain National Park, a government study found that elk were dying from CWD faster than they are being replaced. Unless something changes, it is possible that elk could be extirpated there within 100 years.
The Wisconsin DNR web site now shows 41 of 72 counties where baiting and feeding has been banned because of the discovery of CWD in those counties or adjoining counties. The newest additions are Oneida, Forest and Vilas counties, where the ban is to begin Jan. 11.
While CWD continues to expand exponentially in Wisconsin, science continues to learn more about CWD, including that plants can take up CWD and that research mice at Case Western University that were given genes similar to humans were susceptible to CWD.
If the state of Wisconsin doesn’t change course on this disease and continues to make no effort to “control” CWD – we’ve seen only a meek effort to “monitor” CWD – will the day come when there could be a glut of Wisconsin deer rifles on the market as hunters decide there is no longer a reason to go deer hunting. Everyone hopes that’s not going to be the case. Still, several indicators point that this could be the trend. So, is this a good time to put that rifle on the market? While there are still hunters interested in deer hunting?