Monday, June 5, 2017

Little official WI urgency about diseased deer

[Updated from 6/3/17] Wisconsin conservation writer Patrick Durkin notes the shoulder shrugs given by leading state officials to the known presence of chronic wasting disease, (CWD), in the Wisconsin deer population and on commercial deer farms: 
Bryan Richards, CWD project leader at the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Heath Center in Madison, said the three game farms “constitute a real and significant threat to the integrity of northern Wisconsin’s deer herd.”
Richards said the facilities’ high numbers of CWD-positive deer pose an “ongoing risk of disease escaping into the wild.” In fact, Richards said those numbers are “reminiscent of the Hall Farm in Portage County where prevalence reached nearly 80 percent” in the 70-acre enclosure when DATCP killed its 76 deer in 2006. Sixty of those deer had CWD.
Said former Wisconsin Natural Resources Board chairman Dave Clausen: 
"This is one of the most outrageous human susceptibility experiments in history.”
The lackadaisical, slow-motion attitude Durkin documents by officials at several state agencies reminds me of the Wisconsin DNR's approach to important information that science can provide to the public if the officials act accordingly:

*  When the issue is known drinking water contamination near bug feedlots encouraged to expand in the Walker years, the official response was fewer inspections, less enforcement for violations and allowing operations to keep running even when permits had expired.

*  Concerned about impaired waterways after Wisconsin under Walker eased phosphorous discharge controls? It didn't get much attention, but the DNR notified the federal government in a required annual report that Wisconsin was adding another 225 rivers to the impaired list.

*  When the issue is air pollution, Team Walker fought the US EPA over tighter clean air rules, and eliminated Wisconsin's dirty air early warning system, meaning the public is no longer alerted that air quality is deteriorating unless and until pollution levels are recorded which put children, elderly, people with known cardio-vascular conditions or performing outdoor exercise or work at risk.

*  And the DNR scrubbed off its official websites scientific and educational materials about risks posed by a warming climate, though ion you search Google and DNR archives, you will there was a time just before anti-science GOP Governor Scott Walker began to downgrade the DNR that the agency was approaching climate science and change head-on:

February 2011
Managing our future: Getting ahead of a changing climate
Over the next few decades, climate change could turn Wisconsin into a very different looking place. Winters will be shorter, warmer and rainier. Our northern forests could undergo a visible transformation, hosting an unfamiliar mix of trees. Trout streams could seriously decline, and aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems across the state could be disrupted in ways that favor invasive species over native plants and animals.
Climate change poses a growing challenge for Wisconsin's landscapes, waters, fish and wildlife. Managing our natural resources and maintaining the outdoor look and feel of our state will be increasingly complex in the years ahead.
"We need to think about what climate change means for our natural resources and get out ahead of this problem, and we're working hard to do that," says Jack Sullivan, who directs DNR's Bureau of Science Services. Sullivan coordinates efforts,
*  So little surprise at what conservation writer Durkin saw and heard from Walker and the DNR about CWD at the recent statewide Wisconsin Conservation Congress:
Its deputy secretary, Kurt Thiede, spent 30 seconds discussing CWD during his 18-minute address to the Wisconsin Conservation Congress at its statewide convention May 12 in Oshkosh.
Thiede said the agency remains committed to limiting CWD’s spread, but didn’t specify how. And he certainly didn’t mention those three infected deer farms or the abysmal 10 percent testing rate in Dane, Iowa, Sauk and Richland counties.
Soon after Thiede’s talk, Gov. Scott Walker used about two of his 22 minutes at the podium to share some “good news” regarding CWD. That is, if you got your deer tested in 2016, you received your results in less than 10 days. As recently as 2012 the DNR averaged 20 days to send results.
Folks, if that’s the only CWD information this administration shares willingly, it knows nothing about news — let alone CWD’s risk to Wisconsin’s deer herd
In other words, the less you know, the better leaders feel - - even if you don't.

The DNR has a hi-falutin' mission statement about providing a healthy environment and protecting natural resources, but the agency Walker directed be run with a "chamber of commerce mentality' has moved more towards an "Ignorance is bliss" mission statement, or "What, me worry?" made famous by Mad Magazine's Alfred. E. Neuman.

Like this satisfied Wisconsin deer hunter - - don't worry, be happy.

Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR
The WI DNR released this photo of Secretary Cathy Steps with her first deer kill.


Anonymous said...

Once again, unfortunately, you have nailed it. From inside the DNR let me say this: The leadership has totally given up on CWD, mostly to make the game farms and hunters who dont care about it happy. Strictly a short term view. Walker/Stepp will be gone before the real ramifications hit. Field staff are basically helpless... they will be kept busy to make it look good, but CWD statewide is a virtual certainty. No effort by this administration to take any meaningful steps.

Sad, disgraceful. Probably not provable as a crime, but Walker/Stepps callous indifference once again reveals their wickedness. They are evil, not just stupid.

Bernard J. (Bernie) Starzewski said...

I have been serving on the Manitowoc Co. CDAC and now after only 2 years into what was supposed to be a 3 year term Ive been told I have to reapply because it has been decided that everyone must do so every 3 years.
I have declined this and in an email to Kevin Wolenfang the state director and Manitowoc County chair Larry Bonde I detailed the reasons. Primarily that the CDACs are little more than political theater substituting for good public policy.
At the CWD session only two other voting members bothered to show up and closing the cervid farms was not given as one of the multiple choice options in dealing with the outbreaks.
I compared these places to Jurassic Park 0 with extremely dangerous organisms waiting to break out of their wire cages.