Hunters urged to test deer for CWD before eating

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 5:38 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The archery and crossbow deer hunting season is underway. Wildlife officials are urging hunters to keep their eyes open for a disease that affects deer. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources strongly encourages deer hunters to have the meat tested for chronic wasting disease before consumption.

Terry Shaurette is a Wisconsin DNR Wildlife Biologist at the DNR’s Eau Claire office. He says CWD has only been seen in white-tailed deer so far in Wisconsin.

“It’s a tricky disease. It doesn’t show outward symptoms,” Shaurette said. “You can have a healthy deer walking around the woods and it could be carrying the disease and have it for a couple of years spreading it to other deer.”

Some signs of CWD are if you see a deer that looks extremely skinny, looks confused, and has a lot of saliva coming from its mouth.

Shaurette says 10 white-tailed deer have tested positive for CWD. It’s not known if it can be passed from deer to humans, but Shaurette says it’s better to air on the side of caution and get the deer meat tested.

“What we need is the head and about four inches of the neck to do testing,” Shaurette said. “That’s where the tissue that we need to do the testing is, the neck and the head.”

Shaurette says the DNR office in Eau Claire, some vets, and other places accept samples. He says they don’t need to be fresh and can be frozen.

“We have self-service kiosks that you can bring that. You can fill out the paperwork yourself, you drop it off, and then when we come along and pick that up. So, the sampling is sent to the vet diagnostic lab in Madison, that’s where the testing actually happens,” Shaurette said.

If you do have deer that test positive for CWD, there are disposal sites in Eau Claire and Menomonie.

Reporting and testing deer for CWD helps the DNR keep track of cases in the area.

If you aren’t a hunter, Shaurette says if you see a deer that may be showing signs on CWD, call your local DNR office.

For CWD testing locations click here.

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