Three deer have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease in central Wisconsin, and environmental leaders want to know if other animals are infected.
Hunters gathered at a public meeting Tuesday evening to learn about the disease and voice their concerns.
Marcell Wieloch attended the meeting. He hunts on land north of Portage County, but he says he's worried about the spread of CWD.
"A lot of people are concerned about this," he said.
Others also attended the meeting led by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to learn more about the disease. CWD affects deer, moose, and elk.
"I started out small game hunting and got into deer hunting and big game," said Wieloch.
DNR leaders say the disease was first found in Wisconsin 11 years ago.
"I think everyone should be concerned about CWD," said Lindsey Long, DNR wildlife veterinarian.
Earlier this year, a deer harvested in Portage County tested positive for the disease. It's the first time CWD was found in a wild deer in that county.
"Folks can help us by reporting sick deer," said Kris Johansen, DNR area wildlife supervisor.
It's a simple step hunters agree can make a big difference.
"That's the only way to know, finding how far it's spreading is to test it and hopefully the more testing they do, they get clean results," said Wieloch.
But it's important to remember, not all deer with CWD look sick.
"It's very difficult to tell when a deer has Chronic Wasting Disease unless its in the very final stages," said Long.
That's why the DNR is asking hunters to test their deer especially if they're harvested in a county where CWD has been detected.
"It's not just going to go away so it's a chronic disease that can not only affect an individual animal, but a whole population," said Long.
That's why wildlife experts hold meetings like on Tuesday, to get the word out and help reduce the damage.
"We care about the deer population, we care about the hunting tradition, and we want to make sure that continues," said Long.
If you want to eat a deer harvested in an area where CWD has been found, officials say you should get it tested first.
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