Douglas County has placed a moratorium on game farms.
The one-year moratorium means any member of the deer family can't be imported into Douglas County and new raising operations can't be started. During that time, a study group will be formed to study chronic wasting disease and determine if creation or amendments to county ordinances are required to protect public health, the environment and address key concerns.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for you to take advantage of to protect yourselves, the environment, the wild deer herd and the health of the citizens of Douglas County," said Al Horvath of Superior.
Horvath serves as vice chairman of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress deer committee, state deer advisory committee with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and as chairman of the Douglas County deer advisory committee, but said Thursday, Sept. 20, he spoke only as a resident.
Horvath said over 6,000 people voted on resolutions in the Wisconsin Conservation Congress and 92 percent supported state action to prevent the spread of CWD.
"The governor decided to put some emergency rules after 16 years of watching this disease spread," Horvath said. The outcome of those rules was to require double fencing to prevent nose-to-nose contact and to restrict the transport of deer after they've been harvested to prevent prions that cause the disease from being spread on the landscape, but the rules don't go far enough and are in danger of being rolled back by legislators, he said.
Horvath said in the last five months, the state has gone from 48 CWD-affected counties to 55 - a 14.6 percent increase - and has gone from 23 to 25 counties with positive diagnosis in the wild deer population, and 13 to 18 counties with captive positives. The DNR's website hasn't been updated to reflect the new data, he said.
"In my opinion, the state's obligation is to protect its citizens, primarily," Horvath told the County Board on Thursday, Sept. 20. "And if they fail to act on something that could have human implications on health, then they're not doing their job. And if they're not doing the job, it goes to grassroots. It goes to local zoning ordinances and supervisors like you to do something for the people."
Horvath, who volunteered to serve on the study committee, said it will allow the county to work with experts to develop regulations that will protect the public health.
Supervisor Keith Allen, who was unable to attend the meeting Thursday as he recovers from surgery, is 100 percent in favor of the resolution, Douglas County Board Chairman Mark Liebaert said.