On the heels of a report showing Chronic Wasting Disease is spreading through Wisconsin’s white-tailed deer population, Governor Scott Walker is denying his administration has not taken an aggressive enough approach to deal with the issue.
Figures released by the Department of Natural Resources show more than nine percent of the deer tested in the state last year were positive for CWD. It’s the highest positive rate since the disease was first found in 2002 and an almost 50 percent increase from 2014 test results. CWD has currently been found in wild deer populations in 18 of the state’s 72 counties.
During a stop in Appleton Thursday, Walker said his administration has been working to address the disease. “Five years ago, I put in place a deer trustee to address not only the Chronic Wasting Disease but other issues along the way, and so we’ve been very aggressive in that regard,” he said.
A pair of Democratic lawmakers claim that has not been the case though. In a letter to the governor this week, Rep. Nick Milroy (D-South Range) and Rep. Chris Danou (D-Trempealeau) contend the state has not been doing enough and that the DNR has failed to acknowledge the spread of the disease. “With CWD levels reaching alarming numbers, an important part of Wisconsin’s identity and culture is at stake. We cannot stress enough the importance of addressing this issue in a swift and responsible manner,” the two argued.
Walker said the letter lacked specifics though, and urged anyone with ideas to come forward. “If they’ve got specific ideas, we’d be more than happy to work with them or anybody else,” he said
The governor noted that, as a hunter himself, it’s an issue he takes very seriously. “I want a healthy population and a good harvest in the state of Wisconsin, and that’s something we’re committed to.”
However, Walker added that science will drive any action the state takes, not politics.