Series: Chronic Wasting Disease In Wisconsin's Deer

The deer herd at the heart of Wisconsin's beloved hunting tradition faces a growing threat in the form of chronic wasting disease, caused by an infectious type of protein called prions. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources began testing for CWD in 1999, detecting more than 100,000 infected deer since, mostly in southern areas of the state. As DNR policies for monitoring CWD shift amid changing political priorities for wildlife management, hunters and scientists remain concerned about the disease's threat to the health of the deer herd.
 
Wisconsin environmental regulators announced in August 2018 that they will take new steps to track and try to curb the spread of chronic wasting disease among the state's deer population.
After years of Wisconsin testing fewer deer for chronic wasting disease but finding more cases of infections, a new study offered some additional clues about how CWD might spread through the environment.
Chronic wasting disease used to frighten people in Wisconsin.
The degenerative nervous system disorder chronic wasting disease primarily infects deer, moose and elk in several locations around North America, including in Wisconsin.
As a new gun deer hunting season gets underway, tissue samples from around the state will pile up at Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory facilities in Madison.
Bryan Richards
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has identified thousands of deer infected with chronic wasting disease over the last 17 years. But the total number of animals affected and the geographic breadth of the disease is at the heart of policy differences over how to address the disease.