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State Gets Passive as CWD Spreads

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Mad Cow Disease Page and our Wisconsin News Page.

You can practically feel Patrick Durkin's blood pressure rising, column after column. The Waupaca-based outdoor recreation writer has devoted more than a dozen of his weekly offerings since 2009 decrying what he feels is the state's inadequate response to the threat posed to deer by chronic wasting disease, or CWD.

His April 21 column, carried in papers including the Wisconsin State Journal and Green Bay Press Gazette, looked at a CWD hot spot in north-central Iowa County near Spring Green. There, the annual growth rate for the fatal brain disease has reached 27 percent among deer 2½ years or older.

This finding, for the reporting year ending March 31, is "unprecedented," "frightening" and "disturbing," various experts told Durkin. He lambasted state policymakers and hunting groups for doing virtually nothing to stop it, or even to fund basic research.

"There'll be no shortage of shame as this stench spreads," Durkin warned.

Durkin, in an interview, unloads the other barrel. He notes that programs like Earn-A-Buck, meant to contain the spread of the disease, have been beaten back by politically connected groups like the Hunters Rights Coalition, made up of hunting and firearms advocates.

"These aren't Wisconsin's best scientific minds blowing this off," Durkin fumes. "The best scientific minds are using words like 'unprecedented' and 'frightening.' "