Democrats introduce game farm CWD double-fencing bill
By Tim Eisele
Madions — State Reps. Nick Milroy, D-South Range, and Dana Wachs, D-Eau Claire, introduced a game farm double-fencing bill May 3 that they call “Save Our Deer.”
The proposed bill, which is known as Legislative Reference Bureau No. 2271, if passed by the legislature, would:
• Require that all deer farms have electronic monitoring systems that indicate when gates are open;
• Require fencing for non-white-tailed deer farms;
• Mandate that fences be inspected every two years;
• Require all deer farms or game farms in which CWD is discovered to comply with new fencing standards, including either double-fencing or electric fencing.
“We owe it to the people of Wisconsin, not just hunters, to do everything we can to slow the spread of CWD,” said Milroy. “Hunting is a time-honored tradition and a major industry in Wisconsin. Without a healthy deer herd our hunting heritage and economy are in jeopardy. While there is much to learn about CWD, we know we can slow its spread.”
Wachs said that “CWD has been a significant problem for over a decade now, but Gov. (Scott) Walker and the Republicans in the Legislature have done little to combat it. While other states like Michigan and Missouri are increasing tests for CWD, the number of tests conducted in Wisconsin has decreased significantly since 2010. Deer hunting is an important tradition in Wisconsin and it contributes over $1 billion to our economy per year.”
Tom Hauge, of Sauk City, recently retired DNR Bureau of Wildlife Management director, said that this bill is a good bill.
“It addresses some of the main concerns talked about during the CWD Review Response Committee,” Hauge said.
If CWD is found on a deer farm, then a second fence, either electric or a regular fence, have to be erected. The idea is that the extra fencing would help prevent deer on the inside of the fence from touching noses with wild deer on the outside.
Hauge said that it also responds to the governor’s request that the DNR increase the inspection of deer farm fences. The bill would require fence inspections every two years, rather than every 10 years, as is required currently.
It also makes the same rules for all deer farms, because currently white-tailed deer farm rules are different from farms holding elk, other species of deer, and moose.
“I hope this bill gets the endorsement of the DNR and Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP),” Hauge said.
DATCP holds the regulatory authority over deer farms in Wisconsin, but the job of inspecting game farm fences falls to the DNR’s conservation wardens.
State law now allows single fencing on deer and elk farms, even those where animals have been found with CWD.
Wisconsin has 387 deer farms. Animals on 15 farms have been found to have CWD since 2001, according to DATCP.