Chronic wasting disease spreads in western Wisconsin

White-tailed deer in Michigan.
A pair of white-tailed deer bucks feed by waters edge at dusk Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, at Greater Fouty-Rutkowski Pond in East Lansing, Mich.
Al Goldis | AP

Wisconsin wildlife officials say chronic wasting disease has spread to Dunn County, about 50 miles east of the Twin Cities.

The state Department of Natural Resources said Friday that a wild deer killed during the 2019 archery season near Menomonie tested positive for the disease. It's the first CWD infection detected in Dunn County, after 373 samples test last year came back negative.

"Last year's sampling effort was comprehensive, and this recent detection indicates that the disease is unlikely to be distributed throughout the county," the DNR reported in a news release. "However, disease distribution is often not spread evenly, and biologists need samples from the area around this positive to better understand the local distribution of CWD."

Wisconsin’s nine-day firearms deer season opens Saturday. DNR officials are asking hunters across western Wisconsin to turn in samples from any deer they kill in the region for CWD testing, to help assess the spread of the disease. A list of sampling stations can be found on the DNR’s website.

While it's the first time CWD has been found in Dunn County, five wild deer have tested positive for CWD in neighboring Eau Claire County over the last two years. And the disease is common elsewhere in the state.

CWD also has been detected in Minnesota on a more-limited scale, and has been closely tracked by wildlife officials.

Minnesota DNR officials say hunters have turned in thousands of samples during this month's firearms deer season, with testing focused in three areas of the state: the southeast, where the disease is established; the central zone where infection was found on a commercial farm; and north-central Minnesota where one case had been detected.

MPR News contributed to this report.

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