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Panel begins study to prevent CWD spread to Douglas County

Five Douglas County Board supervisors will study chronic wasting disease and ways to prevent the spread of it in Douglas County.

The county is under a one-year moratorium that prohibits the importation of cervids while the county studies the issues and determines whether ordinances could be used to prevent the spread.

Supervisors Keith Allen, Scott Luostari, Peter Clark and Joseph Moen serve on the cervids study committee chaired by Zoning Committee Chairwoman Mary Lou Bergman.

Douglas County Board Chairman Mark Liebaert said he selected two members who opposed the moratorium and two who favored it, and appointed Bergman as chairperson because she would be fair and impartial.

The committee's options include doing nothing in terms of regulation, creating an ordinance that prohibits new deer farms or importation of cervids, or creating a new agricultural zone where deer farms would be allowed, said Keith Wiley, zoning coordinator and an adviser to the committee.

The challenge with prohibiting deer farms is that stringent controls could prompt the state to take action to take away local control, as it has on issues such as shoreland zoning, wind turbines and cell phone towers, Wiley said.

"If we are scared to use local control because we're scared to lose it, then we've already lost it," Liebaert said. He said he favors a new agricultural zone.

The new committee met briefly Thursday, Jan. 17, to discuss future meetings and a strategy to learn more about the issue.

Al Horvath, chairman of the Douglas County Deer Advisory Council and vice chairman of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress Deer and Elk Committee, suggested the committee contact Bayfield County Chairman Fred Strand, a retired DNR biologist, because Bayfield County has addressed the issue already.

In addition, he suggested a DNR wildlife expert and veterinarian as speakers because they helped inform Bayfield County deer farm regulations. Horvath said Bayfield County's study was very comprehensive and looked at other deer diseases, not just chronic wasting disease.

The study group plans to meet at 4 p.m. the third Thursday of every month in Room 270 of the Government Center, starting in March. The Douglas County Board is on hiatus in February.

Bergman said while the committee has a year to make its recommendations to the County Board, it also has the authority to exceed that timeline if necessary.

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