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DNR pushes panic button with unpopular deer-eradication plan

July 28, 2002 Wisconsin State Journal by Gregory J. Phillips
The state Department of Natural Resources' one and only plan to eradicate deer in western Dane County is irrational and unjustified.

As a landowner in the town of Mazomanie, avid deer hunter and graduate of UW-Madison with a bachelor's degree in wildlife ecology, I am appalled at the hastily designed plan and the propaganda campaign to rally support. The DNR presented only selected information to the public about chronic wasting disease and the management strategies employed by other states with CWD experience. The plan lacks public input, and it's not based on scientific research or past experiences by other management agencies. Wildlife management strategies and plans are based on repetitive research and/or experiences of others. I believe the DNR's plan is politically motivated and will not curtail CWD.

Research and experience has shown that herd eradication efforts failed to eliminate CWD in western states. Do we in Wisconsin possess special talents for ridding diseases where others have failed? Why should we follow plans that have been ineffective?

The DNR is a sure loser in this mess, regardless of any decision it makes regarding CWD. We can sympathize with DNR personnel. But we do not have to agree with them.

Based on recent feedback during conversations I had with more than a dozen neighboring landowners and other landowners within the eradication zone, I believe the DNR plan has little support. In fact, 11 of the 12 neighbors I spoke with are against the plan.

The plan is an all-out war on deer that will surely reduce property values in the eradication zone. Who wants to buy property in a war zone? How will landowners be compensated for this loss?

I have yet to hear a case where someone found a deer that died of CWD in Wisconsin. The majority of our deer in the eradication zone are healthy. How do we know that this disease hasn't been in Wisconsin for decades or longer? If it has been present for an extended period, it appears to have had little, if any, impact on the deer numbers.

It's obvious we need to know more about this disease before we engage in an all-out slaughter.

It also appears that the DNR is waiving the rights of taxpaying property owners. How can landowners safely use their properties for farming and recreational activities when they can't keep DNR shooters off their property?

This plan is a waste of federal and state tax dollars. The majority of this funding could be spent on scientific research, development of testing facilities and disposal methods, etc. The plan is costly and does not promote proper research. The plan is likely to fail based on lack of landowner support. In the process, we will kill tens of thousands of healthy deer.

We owe it to ourselves as Wisconsin landowners and residents to make a decision based on scientific research and an understanding of why other CWD programs failed. If research shows that this is the only solution, or that farmers' livestock can become infected, or that the disease can infect humans, then we will need a drastic plan that could include eradication. I believe a plan based on research and experience would be accepted by our landowners and residents.

Let's do the right thing this time and lead the nation in developing management plans to curtail or possibly eradicate CWD. This disease is here to stay and we need to learn how to manage it.

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