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In action Wednesday to finalize the 2019-21 Wisconsin state budget, Gov. Tony Evers vetoed a measure that would have used fees from hunters to partially fund a proposed chronic wasting disease research project at a deer farm near Mineral Point.

The proposal, inserted in the budget by the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance and later approved by Republican majorities in the Assembly and Senate, would have taken $100,000 from a Department of Natural Resources account funded by hunters and earmarked for CWD testing and applied the money to a captive deer study.

"I am partially vetoing this section because I object to limiting the flexibility of the department to perform research on chronic wasting disease to only certain areas of the state," Evers wrote in his budget document released Wednesday. "Instead, I am directing the Department of Natural Resources to study all available options and use the funds for scientific research on chronic wasting disease that is likely to lead to the most success in improving deer management practices in Wisconsin."

The proposal had drawn opposition from hunters and conservation organizations, principally since it would have diverted funds intended for CWD testing of hunter-killed deer.

Six groups wrote a letter June 20 to Evers and asked him to veto the measure.

"(We) are not opposing the Legislature’s funding of the domestic deer farm CWD study, however we strongly oppose that sportsmen and women’s dollars are being used to fund the study," the organizations wrote.

The letter was signed by representatives of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Wisconsin Bowhunters Association, Wisconsin chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, the Buffalo County Conservation Alliance and the Mondovi Conservation Club.

The groups responded positively to the veto.

"I think the governor struck a good balance in vetoing the sportsmen's and sportswomen's funding going to the deer farm research, which to our knowledge is not going to have benefit for the wild deer herd," said George Meyer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation. "Even better, it allows the $100,000 to be used by the DNR in doing broader research of CWD and deer management."

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal disease found in white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family. It is fatal to all deer that contract it, but some genotypes of deer live slightly longer in the presence of the disease, according to several studies.

Work published by Mike Samuel and Stacy Robinson at the University of Wisconsin found two of genotypes lived about 8 months longer than the more common genotype.

Deer farmers have been keen to learn as much as possible about resistance to CWD in hopes of breeding or selecting stock that could live longer in the face of the deadly disease.

The proposed Wisconsin deer farm project was supported by Whitetails of Wisconsin, a deer farming association.

According to Laurie Seale, vice president of the group, the CWD deer farm research was planned to run for three years and would cost $150,000 per year. Nick Haley, a CWD and prion researcher from Midwestern University in Glendale, Arizona, would lead the work.

Other than the contested $100,000 that was vetoed by Evers, deer farmers or donors planned to fund the remaining costs, Seale said. Wisconsin deer farmers would also donate animals to participate in the study.

Seale said Wednesday she was hopeful the research project could find another source of funding to help it move forward

From a broader perspective, the 2019-21 state budget was a great disappointment to many conservationists who have asked for additional funding to combat CWD.

Other than the contested deer farm proposal, it included no new measure related to CWD funding.

Some expect a bill to be introduced this year in the Legislature to fund deer carcass dumpsters.

However, the Legislature has recently shown no appetite for CWD-related bills or funding.

Last year, the Republican-controlled Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules rejected a rule that would have restricted deer carcass movement in the state. The rule had been recommended by then Gov. Scott Walker and approved by the state Natural Resources Board.

Similarly, the Legislature let an emergency rule to expire that would have required deer farms to erect double fences.

"There is much work to do on CWD," Meyer said. "It's clearly going to take a bipartisan effort to get something done."
 

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This should serve as a lesson to PA. The Dept. of Ag. has sought funding from PA Game to indemnify pa farmers where CWD is found. PA Game said "no way." PA sportsmen should not be an insurance backstop for farmers. Heck one can argue that farmers were the source of the CWD problem in the first place.
 

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If CWD is ever going to be eliminated or reduced to being insignificant, it will be because of research on game farms that could result in increased resistance to CWD in the deer. All current efforts such as culling deer are designed to slow the spread but the end result of CWD everywhere is still the end result.

There is no mention of the goal of the research they wanted to do in Wisconsin but I have heard that many deer farmers have an interest in breeding for genetic resistance and some have started on it. Success could save their industry. More importantly, success would create some very valuable deer.

This work cannot be done without deer farms. It also needs genetics experts (Penn State research?), PGC and maybe money from the Ag department. It is time to bury some hatchets and get going on this.
 

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Only in politics does accumulating and dispensing revenue matter more than solving the problem of question, even if the problem is of life-and-death importance. Awww, Esquire, you look m-a-w-velous!
 

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If CWD is ever going to be eliminated or reduced to being insignificant, it will be because of research on game farms that could result in increased resistance to CWD in the deer. All current efforts such as culling deer are designed to slow the spread but the end result of CWD everywhere is still the end result.

There is no mention of the goal of the research they wanted to do in Wisconsin but I have heard that many deer farmers have an interest in breeding for genetic resistance and some have started on it. Success could save their industry. More importantly, success would create some very valuable deer.

This work cannot be done without deer farms. It also needs genetics experts (Penn State research?), PGC and maybe money from the Ag department. It is time to bury some hatchets and get going on this.
Sorry Rocky I could never agree to give hunters license dollars to the vile pukes who started this epidemic to begin with by moving their pen raised deer all over the country. Raising deer is their business and they should pay for any research done on deer farms, they have ruined enough in this country let them pay for what they have done. Penn state has been doing research on deer on site for decades, that is where research should be done and money spent and it should be mandatorily funded by the A-holes who caused the problem to start with. Not one penny of hunters money to them. Good for Governor Evers
 
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