Group forms to oppose deer kill

May 11, 2002 The Associated Press
A small group of landowners in the area where state wildlife officials want to kill 15,000 deer to stop the spread of chronic wasting disease have formed a group to oppose the plan.

Citizens Against Irrational Deer Slaughter said Friday it wants the state Department of Natural Resources to stop or slow down its plan to kill every deer in a 287-square-mile zone 25 miles west of Madison.

"We feel that it is too early to pull a trigger on a plan like this," said Mark Sherven, a hunter whose town of Vermont home is in the target area. Sherven said he will not participate if the hunt goes on as planned.

"Not without more testing and scientific evidence," he said.

Mark Kessenich, who runs Moen Creek farms and Othala Valley Inn bed and breakfast, said his hope is that "the DNR is going to wake up and decide this is a very silly idea."

Kessenich said the DNR should stop landowners, hunters and farmers from baiting deer, feeding deer and giving them mineral supplements. Kessenich also said the DNR should conduct more tests across the state to see if the disease has hit other areas.

"To continue focusing here doesn't make good scientific sense. They are not looking at the big picture," he said.

Retired veterinarian John Barnes, who lives in Springdale township at the edge of a larger area where the DNR plans to reduce the deer herd by 25 to 50 percent, said he thinks the new opposition group has an excellent chance to stop the massive deer kill.

To stop the proposed shooting, neighbors need to get involved, he said.

"People are going to have to come forward and stand up and be counted," Barnes said.

Robert Ehlenfeldt, director of animal disease control for the state department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, said experts have determined the state must be aggressive to stop the disease from spreading.

"There is an incredible amount of scientific expertise behind this whole thing," he said.

The commission in charge of the Dane County landfill is leaving open the possibility of burying thousands of deer carcasses at its landfill site. The county's solid waste and recycling commission rejected a motion to ban burying the deer killed in the DNR's eradication zone in western Dane County, eastern Iowa County and a small section of Sauk County.

But the Sauk County Board's Environmental Resources Committee voted unanimously last week not to accept deer carcasses from Dane County.

"No way ... do we want 750 tons or so of deer in our landfill," committee chairman John Schmitz said. "We'll probably take in the ones shot in Sauk County, but the deer shot in Dane County is just too many animals."

Dane County officials say their landfill takes in an average of 400 tons of refuse a day, so it could easily handle all of the deer carcasses.

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