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A 5-year-old buck from a Marathon County hunting preserve (not the animal pictured here) has tested positive for chronic wasting disease, according to the state. / Gannett Wisconsin Media file photo


ELAND — A white-tailed deer killed on a Marathon County hunting preserve has tested positive for chronic wasting disease, the first new case in five years from a Wisconsin game farm, the state veterinarian reported today.

Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, is confirmed to have killed nearly 100 deer in Wisconsin.

The National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, reported the final test results back to the state. The 5-year-old buck was one of about 370 deer in the 351-acre preserve, said State Veterinarian Dr. Paul McGraw.

The deer was killed Nov. 4 in Eland. Samples were taken Nov. 7, following state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, or DATCP, rules that require testing of farm-raised deer and elk when they die, go to slaughter or are killed. The sample originally tested positive at a regional laboratory and required an additional test at the national lab.

The DATCP will investigate the animal’s history and trace movements of deer onto and off the property to determine whether other herds might have been exposed to the CWD test-positive deer, according to a news release.

The results of that study will determine the future of the other deer on the farm, said Raechelle Cline, the public information officer for DATCP’s Division of Animal Health. The rest of the deer herd on the game farm might be destroyed, but at this point, it’s difficult to tell, she said.

“We won’t know until we look closer, at how this came to be and how it (the deer) got there,” Cline said.

Investigators also will work to determine if the infected deer might have come into contact with wild deer. The game farm owner did have a double fence, in compliance with state Department of Natural Resources regulations, Cline said.

McGraw quarantined the preserve and the other three registered farms owned by the same entity immediately, which stops movement of live deer from the property, except to slaughter or to their hunting preserves, according to the state, which did not identify the specific farm or its owner. The business will be allowed to conduct hunts on the quarantined preserves, because properly handled dead animals leaving the premises do not pose a disease risk, the release said.

This is the first new CWD test-positive deer on a Wisconsin farm since October 2008, and the farthest north an infected deer on a game farm has been discovered, Cline said.

Since CWD was discovered in Wisconsin in February 2002, the state has confirmed 82 cases from a single Portage County farm that was depopulated in 2006. In addition, the state discovered 15 cases during a six-year period from 2002 to 2008 on eight farms and hunting preserves. One of the infected animals was an elk; the rest have been white-tailed deer. Since 1998, more than 35,700 farm-raised deer and elk have been tested for CWD.

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