Wisconsin given aid to fight deer disease
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin will receive $3.5 million in federal aid to combat a fatal brain disease in deer and elk.
Much of the money will go for improvements at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory, which is in the process of seeking certification for chronic wasting disease testing, Gov. Scott McCallum said Friday.
McCallum, a Republican, had requested $4 million in emergency funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"CWD is a real threat to the health of our deer herd and our hunting heritage in Wisconsin," he said.
Eighteen deer killed in southwestern Wisconsin have tested positive for the disease, and state officials now want to kill all the estimated 15,000 deer in a 361-square-mile area to prevent it from spreading. The state Department of Natural Resources is offering landowners permits to kill deer on their property next month as part of the eradication effort.
Chronic wasting disease is a relative of mad cow disease in cattle and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. Infected animals become weak and develop brain lesions. The disease is always fatal, but is not believed to be transmissible outside of deer or elk.
The discovery near Mt. Horeb was the first time the disease was found east of the Mississippi River. It previously had been found in deer and elk in parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Montana, Oklahoma and South Dakota and in Canada. There is no vaccine.