Up the Creek: Payment4Positives campaign seeks to control infected deer population
Up the Creek
Ken M. Blomberg
After three deer tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD) within 10 miles of our place along the creek, you can bet my radar on the subject was activated. And that’s why I paid special attention to a presentation on the subject at this summer’s annual meeting of the Wisconsin Outdoor Communicators Association (WOCA) in Eagle River.
Retired DNR wildlife manager Mike Foy presented a very bold plan for a long-term management plan to stabilize this spreading disease in our state’s deer herd. According to Foy, “CWD poses a severe threat to Midwest deer populations, deer hunting recreation, our rural economy, and many cultural aspects of our Wisconsin way of life.” He went on to propose a bold initiative, one that is gaining momentum, Payment4Positives. A proposal that provides substantial rewards to landowners and their hunters who remove CWD-positive deer on a completely voluntary basis. For each positive deer taken out of the herd, $1,000 to landowners. $1,000 to hunter, and $300 to small business sample taker. Got your attention now?
The proposed pilot program would run for 9 days from December 24, 2018 to January 1, 2019 in 24 counties that have the the antlerless gun Holiday Hunt – the remainder of the state would participate through the either-sex archery hunt. The proposed budget would run from less that $100,000 to more than $2 million – depending of course on the number of CWD-positive deer harvested.
Let’s put our state’s deer herd CWD prevalence in perspective. In 2001, 1,092 samples statewide were examined producing only 3 positives – a .2% infection rate. 16 years later, our state detected 600 positives from 9,909 samples – a statewide infection rate of 6%. In Dane County, ground zero of Wisconsin’s CWD epidemic, it is estimated that 4 of 10 buck deer are infected. Male deer, it turns out, are most likely to carry and die of the disease.
So, with all that in mind, proponents of the Payment4Positives campaign reflect CWD prevalence will not stabilize without effective long-term management. The longer we wait to control prevalence, the worse CWD impacts will become. CWD-affected counties now number 55 out of 72. Wisconsin stands to lose $1.3 billion annually to its economy.
Proponents say, “Counties and the state would still control harvest quotas and tag numbers and existing laws and regulations will control trespass and protect public safety. If we can use $250 – $400 million of public funds each to build stadiums for the Milwaukee Bucks, Milwaukee Brewers and Green Bay Packers, why not $1 million per year to protect our deer herd – annually, a billion dollar industry.
“If more CWD-positive deer die each year than healthy deer become infected, and at the same time herd population growth stays positive, and we keep this up, year after year, just like paying off a mortgage, we will eventually shrink disease distribution and reduce CWD prevalence to low nuisance levels.”
Does anyone else have a better idea?
Blomberg is the author of two books, UP THE CREEK, and WISCONSIN BIRD HUNTING TALES. Both are available at either amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com or arcadiapublishing.com. Autographed copies are available from the author at [email protected]