When we look at the recent reaction of Minnesota leaders to the threat of chronic wasting disease in Minnesota’s deer herd, we can once again be thankful we don’t live in Wisconsin.
The Badger State has been overrun with the disease in its deer herd and showed an astounding lack of resolve and responsibility in dealing with the problem.
While chronic wasting disease is still relatively rare in Minnesota, DNR officials announced an aggressive plan this week to prevent the disease from spreading here and avoid the disaster that has become Wisconsin’s policy.
The Minnesota plan calls for increased hunting of deer in the areas shown to include animals with Chronic Wasting Disease. It would restrict deer feeding in two major areas of the state where chronic wasting has been found and it would restrict movement of full deer carcasses from chronic wasting areas without testing for CWD before transport.
Those areas include the southeast part of the state from near Austin to the Minnesota/Wisconsin border and parts of north central Minnesota between Aitkin and Brainerd.
There is no cure as yet for CWD and it could ultimately decimate deer herds and cut into the livelihood of Minnesota hunters. While CWD has not been shown to impact human health of those who come in contact with it or eat the venison, the Centers for Disease Controls noted there may be a risk to people and one should avoid exposure to it.
The DNR has the support of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, which has 20,000 members. That group’s leader pointed to the disaster created by the non-existent policy on CWD in Wisconsin.
“We think it’s important that Minnesota continue to be proactive in addressing CWD so we don’t become a Wisconsin,” said Executive Director Craig Engwall. “They were passive, and they paid the price,” he told the Associated Press.
Passive would be an understatement. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at one point implemented emergency rules on CWD, but a citizen committee and the Legislature allowed them to expire and delayed permanent rules due to heavy lobbying by the deer farming industry. CWD cases skyrocketed in Wisconsin.
CWD has been detected in 5,200 deer and found in 300 additional deer on 24 Wisconsin deer farms and hunting ranches, according to Wisconsin Public Radio. Since 2016, Minnesota has only detected about 50 cases of the disease, according to the DNR.
Wisconsin’s GOP-led Legislature rejected the emergency and permanent rules on the argument that the state should not restrict business activity. Rules restricting transportation of CWD carcasses were derided as a “political stunt.”
We hope the Minnesota GOP party rejects the ideas of their Wisconsin counterparts.
CWD is a serious animal health and hunting issue. It could be a public health issue.
We need an aggressive response.