DNR's review notification failure on CWD deer found near Shell LakeOutdoor News
-- The state DNR’s top wildlife manager says communication improvements will be made to avoid delays in testing deer for chronic wasting disease.
MADISON - The state DNR’s top wildlife manager says communication improvements will be made to avoid delays in testing deer for chronic wasting disease.
At a meeting of the Natural Resources Board yesterday, Tom Hauge explained a three-and-a-half-month delay in testing a deer found last November near Shell Lake in far northwest Wisconsin. Those tests confirmed in late March that it was the first wild deer in the north to have the fatal brain disease.
DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp criticized the delay to the Board – and she said it sent a message that her department doesn’t take CWD seriously anymore. Stepp, who’s been trying to improve the DNR’s public image, later clarified that she was not publicly calling her subordinates on the carpet. She said they’re doing great work. She accepted responsibility for the testing delay. And Stepp said her employees are passionate about solving what’s been a public relations nightmare ever since CWD was first found in southern Wisconsin in 2002.
Hauge said the major problem with the Shell Lake deer came after a DNR ecologist brought the animal’s head to a holding shed in Madison in early December, and notified an assistant. The assistant never followed through, and the head sat in a freezer in the shed until early March. Hauge also downplayed the chance that the ground near Shell Lake is contaminated because of the infected animal. UW-Madison experts said the deer’s fluids probably did not seep in because the ground was frozen.
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