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DNR continues CWD testing in Northwest Wisconsin

Two years after Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was found in a deer near Shell Lake, the Department of Natural Resources continues testing as many deer as hunters bring in.

It's 16 degrees on opening day in the tiny town of Barronett in Washburn County. DNR Wildlife biologist Kevin Morgan stands over a doe in the back of a pickup truck at Speedy's C-Stop. After cutting deep into the neck, he uses a scalpel and tweezers for the more delicate work. "What we're looking for is the lymph nodes, and they're on each side of the trachea."

After removing the glands, which can harbor CWD in deer, Morgan places them in small plastic bags for analysis. "They want one from each side just to make sure. If there are any questions they re-test, and these are sent down to Madison to the diagnostic lab."

Two years ago, a deer near Shell Lake tested positive for CWD. It was the first case outside of the known CWD zone in southern Wisconsin. Since then more than 1,000 deer from the new area have been tested with no new positives. Morgan says that doesn't mean their job is finished. "It's taken such a jump that all of us are still a little surprised and we're just going to make sure. So, we're not going to give it a chance."

Hunter Jimmy Degidio says he's not worried about CWD but he's all for helping the DNR keep track of it. "We want to make sure we have a healthy herd in Wisconsin. Hopefully, there are no problems up here: I don't anticipate any," he said. "A lot of wolves, a lot of bears... if there's a sick deer around it's not going to last more than a couple days."

The DNR hopes to get 500 new samples from Barron, Burnett, Polk and Rusk counties. On opening day they had just over 40 in Barronett.