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Failure To Test WI For CWD Is Negligent

May 9, 2002 TResponse to AP article by John Stauber, co-author, Mad 
Cow USA  
In today's (5/9/02) Wisconsin State Journal (page B-5, Associated Press article "Iowa will ban deer importation") the Department of Natural Resrouces' Julie Lagenberg says that Wisconsin will test deer "in all corners of the state" within 3 years. She admits that CWD could be present in other places in the state, and says that if its found the state will use the same tactics of massive slaughter and disposal to try to eradicate other so-called hot spots.

This announced policy of not testing for CWD adequately and immediately statewide is outrageously stupid and It smacks of a state cover-up of the extent of the crisis. The state has also announced that it is not requiring all deer and elk that die on game farms to be tested for CWD because this requirement could not be easily enforced. The state's CWD policy might be best be described as the 'Ignorance Is Bliss Initiative,' and it seems aimed at concealing the true extent and cause of Wisconsin's CWD crisis.

I am aware of no reason why western Dane County would be unique to the state, or the upper Midwest region, when it comes to CWD infections of wild deer. A very big question is: why did the state do so much of its very limited testing in the western Dane County area? The game farms that are the primary suspects in bringing CWD to Wisconsin and spreading it into the wild are located by the hundreds all over Wisconsin and are also in adjoining states, especially Minnesota. CWD testing to date outside of western Dane County has been completely inadequate to detect other CWD infection areas, but I suspect that every state in North America with a sizeable number of deer and elk farms already has CWD already spread into its wild herd. We need immediate nation-wide testing, but of course that reflects on the failures of the federal government as well as individual states to deal seriously with CWD.

Why is Wisconsin refusing to adequately test game farms and the wild herd state-wide? I suspect the answer is politics. Finding the true extent of Wisconsin's CWD infection rate state-wide would generate such public outrage that it could cost jobs and possibly elections as happened in Britain with political bungling of the mad cow crisis, a significant contributor to the downfall of Prime Minister John Major's government.

Remember, according to internal documents and state admissions, Wisconsin's state veterinarian Clarence Siroky, and the Tommy Thompson administration made, a horrendously wrong decision when 4 years ago they refused to implement a moratorium on bringing live deer and elk into WI, even though they knew that animals from infected western herds were coming into the state. Their response was to set up a CWD advisory panel that except for a couple state employees was 100% composed of owners of deer and elk farms.

Now we have CWD in the state, but the state has decided that there will not be significant statewide testing for years. This is worse than stupid, its negligent. The sooner that Wisconsin understands the true extent of this disease crisis, the sooner we can adequately discover and take steps to address it. Denying and hiding the extent of the crisis might give some politicians and bureaucrats cover, but it just gives the worst animal disease crisis in state history more time to spread and grow.

John Stauber, co-author, Mad Cow USA

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