A deer farm in Waukesha County has become the latest victim of a chronic wasting disease.
The 20 remaining deer at Red Wing Deer Farm in Waukesha were killed on Aug. 3, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Commerce and Consumer Protection.
Eight of the 20 tested positive for CWD.
The 9-acre Waukesha ranch had been in quarantine since November 2021 when deer moved out of the facility tested positive for CWD at an Eau Claire County ranch.
Then on February 10, DATCP announced that CWD had been detected in two 3-year dollars at Red Wing, drawing up plans for the depopulation.
Chronic wasting disease is a deadly neurological disease of deer, elk and elk caused by an infectious protein called a prion that affects the animal’s brain, according to the CWD Alliance. The disease is thought to be spread primarily through close contact with animals, but the prions are also stable in soil and water.
The disease has not been found to cause disease in livestock or humans. However, health officials do not recommend that people consume meat from a CWD positive animal.
Since CWD was identified in a research facility in Colorado in the 1960s, it has spread to 30 states, five Canadian provinces, as well as Finland, Korea and Norway.
Regulations, enforcement and technology cannot prevent the disease from affecting an increasing proportion of deer farming and wild deer herds.
The progression of the disease has been met with a general lack of urgency and weak commitment among lawmakers, and government agencies have been unable to stop the spread with current tools and procedures.
Congress, for example, has not passed legislation introduced in the current and past sessions designed to increase funding for CWD research and management.
Efforts to produce better tests for the disease, including to allow deer farmers to assess live animals before transporting them and for hunters to evaluate them in the field or at home, have died down.
Fortunately, the two nightmare scenarios – human or cattle disease related to CWD – have not played out.
Red Wing is the third state facility where its herd has been killed because of CWD this year.
The others were Van Ooyen Whitetails in Antigo and Maple Hill Farms in Gilman.
Van Ooyen Whitetails was depopulated on May 18. None of the 47 deer left on the property tested positive for CWD. However, a 1-year-old doe on the farm had previously tested positive for the deadly disease. That animal was obtained from Maple Hill Farms.
Maple Hill Farms, in turn, had its herd of 238 adult deer and 63 fawns removed the week of July 25, according to farm owner Laurie Seale. It has been in quarantine since August 2021 due to the finding of CWD in an adult doe.
Test results of the animals killed at Maple Hill are not yet available.
But the 301 deer killed make it the largest depopulation of a captive deer facility in Wisconsin history.
The owners of all three farms will receive federal benefits funded by the taxpayers.
The federal fund, administered by the United States Department of Agriculture, allows fees of up to $3,000 per animal.
Red Wing Deer Farm in Waukesha had been licensed since 2002 and primarily raised animals for slaughter, according to DATCP.
The terms of the depopulation will prohibit the farm from keeping deer for five years, during which time it must maintain fences and submit to routine inspections.
Epidemiological research has been carried out on the farm to determine the source of CWD.
However, according to DATCP, none have been identified.