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DNR fears CWD still spreading

Published On: Nov 17 2013 04:15:19 AM CST   Updated On: Nov 17 2013 04:24:17 AM CST

Planning to head out into the wild for next week’s deer hunt?

Before you go, the DNR wants you to be aware that Chronic Wasting Disease appears to be spreading outside Wisconsin's CWD management zones.

Despite the warnings, some hunters, like Don Meadowcroft, who says he’s been hunting as long as he can remember, aren’t worried about CWD, though they aren’t denying it exists.

"It would be nice if the work they're doing toward it was eliminating the CWD," said Meadowcroft. "But I don't think it is."

Meadowcroft instead prefers to focus on what he can control, like washing his hunting gear in unscented detergent to prepare for gun deer season.

"This week is the crunch week when I do the work, all the packing, laundry, and the list and checking it twice is all this week," said Meadowcroft.

The DNR, meanwhile, is checking for CWD, which was first discovered in Wisconsin back in 2002.

According to the DNR, the disease doesn't impact people, but it can have deadly consequences for deer.

"Lowering the deer population to reduce that deer-to-deer spread as well as environmental contamination is the best thing you can do to control a contagious disease like CWD," said Eric Lobner, Wisconsin DNR wildlife supervisor.

Lobner said the DNR has been monitoring the deer herd in CWD management zones and they’ve noticed an increase in the disease outside those zones.

"In some areas it's been approaching 30 percent in the male population," said Lobner. "For hunters, about one in four mature bucks will have CWD, so they should be conscious of it."

The Wisconsin DNR is also focusing on what Illinois is doing to manage the disease.

While the neighboring state hasn’t eliminated CWD, they have seen a significant reduction.

Meadowcroft will try to leave thoughts of CWD behind when he heads into the woods next weekend, armed with his father’s hunting gun.

He says he's looking forward to the tradition and to spending time with friends.

"The memories you're going to have with them and some things on your own, way more than the antlers on the wall," said Meadowcroft.

Hunters are being asked to be on the lookout for deer showing signs of CWD, which could include a skinny appearance or excessive drooling.

Hunters who eliminate a sick deer should contact a local DNR warden, who will provide another tag to hunt with.

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