Two CWD-positive bucks were loose in wild for over five months.
A Wisconsin deer farm that has been in the headlines since last summer for chronic wasting disease (CWD) is in the news again.
And the news is especially concerning this time, as it has been revealed that two bucks that escaped from the facility and spent months roaming the nearby area were both positive for the deadly neurological disease that is highly contagious through prions that are easily spread among deer, elk and moose.
"Those [CWD-positive] deer likely contaminated and spread prion across the landscape," said Dave Clauson retired veterinarian and former chairman of Wisconsin's state Natural Resources Board.
Fairchild Whitetails first made headlines in June when the first CWD-positive deer was discovered on the Eau Claire County farm. In late November, officials with the Wisconsin State Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer protection decided it was safest to euthanize the whole herd of 228 animals within the facility utilizing sharpshooters and lethal injection administered by veterinarians.
But as it turns out, the two CWD-positive bucks actually escaped with 19 other animals when a fallen tree took out a fence on May 2, roughly a month before CWD was first found. Only five animals were not returned to the pen. Three were fatally shot, but tested negative for the disease.
The two positive 1 1/2-year-old deer however, roamed the countryside around Fairchild for over five months before they were killed on October 6 and November 24, according to information provided to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. One of the bucks was shot only about a mile away from where it is escaped.
The bad news is officials have no idea where the deer traveled during that time, and there are concerns about the possibility of the bucks having cruised out of the area looking for does during the rut.
The good news is that CWD has not been found in any wild deer in Eau Claire County or any surrounding counties. But it's likely the spotlight will be on the area in upcoming years, as the buck's extensive time in the wild has probably raised the chances of it getting into the non-captive herd.