spread may widen
Hunters could have disposed of infected
carcasses, DNR says
Hunters may have unknowingly
transported a fatal brain disease to other Wisconsin counties,
and the protein that causes the disease was dumped in
the environment, a state wildlife administrator said Wednesday.
Based on hunting license records,
including bonus tags issued for the area, the Department
of Natural Resources knows that people from every county
have hunted in the 361-square-mile area of southwest Wisconsin
where 18 infected deer were discovered, said Sarah Shapiro
Hurley, deputy administrator for the agency's land division.
What the DNR doesn't know
is whether those hunters killed any deer infected with
chronic wasting disease and, if they did, what happened
to parts of the carcass, including the head, that contain
the deadly infectious agents, she said.
"The risk is clearly there
that someone took a carcass from that area, took it home
and disposed of it," she said. "There was an opportunity
for this to move around with carcasses."
For example, if a carcass
from a diseased deer shot near Mount Horeb a couple of
years ago was tossed into the woods near Rhinelander for
disposal, the disease could be in the north woods, waiting
to infect deer if it hasn't already, Shapiro Hurley said.
So far, there is no evidence
the disease is elsewhere in Wisconsin.
The DNR believes the disease
may have gotten into the herd in southwest Wisconsin as
early as 1997, but it doesn't know how.
Hunters often butcher their
own deer at home, removing the meat but throwing away
the skeleton, the head, the spinal column and the bones,
the most infectious parts of deer with the disease, Shapiro
Of the 1,000 deer tested for
chronic wasting disease after hunting seasons since 1999
in various parts of Wisconsin, only three killed near
Mount Horeb last fall had the disease, the DNR has said.
Since then, in a special hunt
of more than 500 deer during the spring, another 15 diseased
deer were found in an eradication area of Dane, Iowa and
The DNR plans to test for
the disease in at least 40,000 deer shot by hunters this
fall in all of Wisconsin's 72 counties. Most of the counties
will each contribute about 500 deer.
The testing should determine
whether the disease has spread much beyond southwest Wisconsin.
There could be another area of chronic wasting elsewhere
in the state, but officials won't know until next year,
Shapiro Hurley said.