Deer farming industry concerned about new emergency CWD rules

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- In May, Governor Scott Walker's office announced an aggressive plan to combat the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease in Wisconsin. Since then, the emergency plan has received pushback from some lawmakers and the deer farming industry.

For the past five years, Dan Brown has been raising deer in Fall Creek. Brown is the Owner at Autumn Acres Whitetails and says the new emergency rules regarding CWD in Wisconsin are sparking concern among the industry. "They're wanting us to double fence, double fencing in their description means a couple different things…electric monitoring fences, add in another eight foot high fence or some sort of solid barrier to keep the deer in the farm from having contact with the deer in the wild," said Brown. The citizen-led DNR board approved this in August.

Brown says this could put him and many other deer farmers out of business. "We're a small farm based on a small acreage and if we have to add double fencing, not only is the cost going to be too much for us to take on but it’s going to shrink the size of our pens down which is going to shrink the size of our herds,” said Brown. He fears it would lead to loss of revenue because he wouldn’t be able to raise as many deer.

The rules also propose banning hunters from transporting deer carcasses from the state's 55 CWD-affected counties effective this October.

Brown says he understands the goal but says this isn’t an effective solution. "They're trying to alleviate contact with deer farm raised animals and wild animals and I understand that…that's part of the way CWD is transferred but they're really going about it the wrong way," he said.

Brown says there are many ways CWD is transferred and recommends state officials shift the focus to research and education before implementing restrictions on hunters and deer farmers. "There's never been a documented case of a deer dying from CWD...because human interaction, we always kill them...if we see them and they look sick we kill them and then we test them and say yeah they do have CWD," said Brown.

Brown, member of the Whitetails of Wisconsin Association, says leaders in the industry have been conducting research to determine details on how the disease affects deer.
Brown says ultimately, he hopes the industry can work together with lawmakers, the DNR and the Department of Agriculture to find solutions that work for everyone impacted.

The Department of Natural Resources sent WEAU 13 News a written statement Thursday responding to concerns regarding the emergency rule. “We do understand that this rule may cause some additional cost for deer farmers, but want to reinforce that this rule is aimed at protecting the health of Wisconsin’s wild deer herd and slowing the spread of CWD. The rule allows a variety of enhanced fencing options for deer farmer that vary in price. Studies have shown that enhanced fencing, particularly, electric fencing, is a cost effective way to prevent disease transmission between wild and captive cervids,” said Scott Karel, Program and Policy Analyst.

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