For the first time in five years, a Wisconsin deer has tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD), a serious threat to deer populations that was thought to be on the decline.
A five-year old buck tested positive after being shot on Nov. 4, according to the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The diseased deer came from a shooting preserve in Marathon County, an encouraging sign since the fenced perimeters keep deer in the preserve and wild game out.
CWD is part of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathy family of diseases, and has proven fatal for deer and other game. While humans are not likely to be harmed by CWD, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services suggests that people avoid eating venison from deer that have tested positive.
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The unnamed preserve has been quarantined, along with three other nearby deer farms under the same owner, but will be allowed to continue conducting hunts. As long as dead animals are properly handled, there is no risk in infecting others with the disease.
CWD was first discovered in Wisconsin in 2002. The total number of cases of CWD found in Wisconsin deer has jumped from 8-10 percent in males to over 20 percent, and from 3-4 percent in females to approximately 9 percent.
Does CWD pose a threat to deer populations in Wisconsin, or is one case in five years not worth worrying about? You make the call and share your thoughts in the comments below.