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Latest CWD Info Available in New Video

The National Deer Alliance has launched a communication initiative about chronic wasting disease (CWD) to provide accurate and timely information to the public. Using testimonies and data, a new video aims to educate hunters about the spread of CWD, which has cast a long shadow over America’s most popular hunting pastime.

Unlike other known or more visible diseases, CWD does not kill large numbers of deer at the same time, and affected deer often don’t show signs or symptoms until death is near. These factors, in addition to nonscientific-based reasoning from some vocal groups and individuals, can leave hunters and members of the public confused or without a sense of urgency about what’s at stake.

Though targeted to Pennsylvanians, a YouTube video includes comments from Wisconsin hunters and maps showing CWD’s spread and prevalence-rate increase in our state since 2002.

Check it out at youtube.com/watch?v=EHqX9Fe-sXk&t=712s. To learn more about the National Deer Alliance, visit nationaldeeralliance.com.

What’s Your Take on CWD?

It’s easy to be skeptical about CWD’s impact when it’s not in your hunt area, but many who are dealing with it in the epicenter in southwest Wisconsin say it’s taken some of the spark out of their love for deer and deer hunting.

In addition, with infection rates steadily climbing in areas where it has been for nearly two decades, we’re likely nearing the point where effects on localized deer populations may be noticed. 

The CWD Alliance (cwd-info.org) says the most effective strategies to prevent the spread of the disease are those that eliminate the ways in which CWD prions can travel to new areas by infected animals or infected animal parts.

Many have blamed the movement of live, captive deer for CWD’s spread throughout North America, but it may not be just the live deer. A recently published study found CWD prions in deer semen. Straws of semen from giant-racked captive whitetails sell for thousands of dollars.

Something I’ve been wondering about is the impact of baiting and feeding bans. New findings of CWD lead to bans: an effort to try to reduce nose-to-nose or nose-to-contaminated-ground contact. Yet with half of hunters admitting they at times use bait to lure deer to specific stand sites – and with 52 of the state’s 72 counties now under bans due to CWD-infected animals in that county or an adjacent county – could the recent drops in hunter participation be at least in part due to such bans?

In other words, if there are fewer hunters on the landscape, it’s likely that fewer infected animals will be removed. 

What’s your take on baiting and CWD? Send your comments to [email protected]

Cleaner Water Efforts

After 30 years of pollution-cleanup and restoration efforts, there’s a proposal to remove the Lower Menominee River Area of Concern from a list of the 43 most polluted places on the Great Lakes.

“This is a very significant improvement in the water quality for Green Bay, which, like every part of the state, deserves safe, clean water,” said DNR Secretary-designee Preston Cole.

Sources of pollutants were controlled by improving industry practices and removing contaminated sediments, including 30 million pounds of hazardous waste and contaminated sediment from Green Bay and 376,000 cubic yards of sediments at three sites in the river and harbor. There were also many habitat-restoration projects.

Inland Trout Plan Approved

The DNR recently approved its first statewide trout-management plan: a 10-year plan covering brook, brown, rainbow and lake trout in inland lakes, ponds and streams, including Great Lakes tributaries above impassable barriers such as dams.

Among the primary goals are the protection, enhancement and restoration of sustainable cold-water aquatic habitats and ecosystems. The DNR aims to maintain and expand partnerships while using the best science to protect, develop, enhance and restore trout populations and angling opportunities.

You can see the plan in its entirety at dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/trout/inlandtroutmanagementplan.html.

Danger – Thin Ice

Colder air has returned, but a couple of days in the 40s earlier this week didn’t help the sketchy ice conditions on Green Bay.

Even though there are anglers walking out and even using ATVs and snowmobiles in some areas, the DNR and Coast Guard are reminding fishers that there’s a lot less ice than usual this winter.

Never assume that ice is safe. Even after getting tips at your favorite bait shop, evaluate the local conditions for yourself. Get more details about cold-water safety at coldwaterbootcampusa.org.

Last Call for Contests

• All fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students are eligible to participate in the DNR’s second annual Keep Wildlife Wild poster contest. The deadline is Feb. 14. Google “Keep Wildlife Wild” for details.

• Wildlife Forever’s State Fish Art Contest for K-12 students is open through March 31. Teachers can use Fish On!, a full-color lesson plan, to integrate science and art. Check out the rules at statefishart.org

Record Water Levels

As of Jan. 31, Lake Michigan was 39 inches above its 100-year monthly average, 19 inches higher than last year and four inches above the previous record, set in 1987. Water levels were up 67 inches from the record monthly low, set in 2013.