Thursday, October 25, 2018

Walker's 8-year war on Wisconsin's environment. Part 15. CWD remedies chronically wasted

This is the 15th installment in a 21-part series about the damage that Walker has done to Wisconsin's environment. The series will run until the weekend before the election on Nov. 6th.
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Wisconsin's traditional nine-day gun deer season begins November 17th - - but under a growing cloud; chronic deer wasting disease now affects 55 of our 72 counties, proving that voluntary practices the DNR is promoting to stem the epidemic are ineffective.

Noted in this early 2018 posting, and in subsequent reporting.

Also noted, in 2017: even less testing for the disease since Walker came into office.

Unfortunately, CWD testing in Wisconsin has plummeted in recent years because of budget cuts and the end of in-person deer registration in 2015. 
From 2002 through 2006 the Department of Natural Resources averaged 25,858 CWD tests annually. Soon after, lawmakers like former Rep. Scott Gunderson, R-Waterford, slashed CWD funding, causing CWD tests to average 9,053 from 2007 through 2010, a nearly three-fold decline. 
Since 2010, the DNR has averaged a record low 5,545 CWD tests annually, even while documenting record CWD cases, including 447 in 2016.
No wonder there is suspicion that someday CWD could jump to humans; one venerable deer processor decided not to take the chance.

This is how you promote that the state is open for business, let alone recreation and tourism?

You would think that Walker would not or could not mishandle the deer hunt in a state where rural voters are such an important part of his base - - and for whom he's curried favor by tweeting about his long hours in a deer stand - - but that is what he's managed to do. 

Because a 'chamber of commerce mentality' managed DNR in an administration so obsessively focused on business - - including supporting commercial deer farms which are definitely part of the CWD problem - - dealing with wildlife disease just isn't going to be a priority, as I pointed out in November, 2016
Today we learned that the DNR will not meet a reporting deadline about its plan to control Chronic Wasting Disease that is decimating deer herds and jeopardizing the culturally-significant-and-economically-crucial deer season.
The DNR had been tasked by the Natural Resources Board to provide an update by the end of the year on the state's efforts to combat CWD, a fatal disease found in deer, elk and other cervids. 
The DNR did not provide the first five-year review, prompting the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and the NRB to request a report this year..
A hunter friend of mine wonders why the DNR hasn't been more focused on this important task given all the deer license revenue flowing into the agency.
Is it because the agency is more beholden to the privately-run deer farms that have rising influence in Walker and Stepp's world?
Deer farms are big business as they offer hunting of captive deer for up to $10,000 each; state and federal funds can be paid out to operators whose herds must be euthanized because they are carrying CWD, the Journal Sentinel explained.

Here's another question posed by a member of the La Crosse Tribune's editorial board:  
Richard Kyte: The end of deer dunting in Wisconsin? 
Unless we stop the expansion of CWD by drastically reducing the deer herd, hunters will soon have to choose between eating possibly infected venison or giving up hunting. 
Two more reasons why Walker did not make aggressively combatting CWD a priority:

*  Like Trump, he never will admit that there are any problems in what he supervises.

*  And he will never concede that any problem might have to be addressed scientifically.

Because going down that road might mean all sorts of concerns about Wisconsin realities, preparedness and vulnerabilities - - from budgets to infrastructure to forest health to numerous farm, water and family health concerns - - just might need solutions rooted in science, especially in the climate change science he openly resists.

More about that later.

For the record, Walker this spring backed some modest 'emergency' changes to regulations aimed at preventing CWD from moving from deer farms or through carcass contacts with soil in which the CWD linked culprit proteins called prions can lurk. 

His legislative allies, no doubt with his go-head, effectively blocked even those commonsense measures - - like better deer farm fencing - -  allowing 'good cop' Walker to have it both ways, as I find no news coverages about any disappointed or angry response by Walker, or fresh remedial responses. 

As the must-read outdoors and CWD expert journalist Patrick Durkin observed:
The governor did little to defend the emergency rules he issued May 2, even as his own agency appointees and fellow Republicans decided CWD wasn’t all that urgent. After all, it’s been 16½ years since CWD’s discovery in Iowa County, and 7½ years since Walker’s inauguration. 
If it took until May 2018 for him to declare the emergency, why not wait another six months and discuss it over coffee and cream cheese during the 2019 state budget process? Besides, the elections are a month away. Let sleeping prions rest, right?
The state sure does have CWD - - chronic Walker disease.

Here is a link to the series' previous installment published on October 24, 2018.

Here is a link to a post with the previous seven installments.

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