Chronic wasting disease, a degenerative brain disorder of deer and elk, has been found in animals in Colorado and Wyoming. While uncommon, the disease has made a lot of hunters, wildlife managers and health officials nervous. CWD is a spongiform encephalopathy, belonging to the same family of disorders as “mad cow disease” and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal brain-destroying disease of humans.
Fortunately, there are no signs of CWD in Wisconsin”s whitetail herd. A symposium at Stevens Point July 27 will focus on CWD and its implications for deer and related species, both captive and free-ranging, in Wisconsin. Researchers will discuss how they monitor for CWD, and what might happen if the disease establishes itself in Wisconsin”s deer herd. Hunters and game farmers are invited to attend; symposium organizers promise that the presentations will be comprehensible to non-scientists.
During the morning program Doris Olander, a research associate at UW-Madison”s Department of Animal Health and Biomedical Sciences, will discuss transmissible spongiform encephalopathies and how they spread. Mike Miller, a veterinarian with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, will talk about what to expect if CWD becomes established in free-ranging populations of deer, elk or similar animals.
In the afternoon, Steve Walcott of the North American Elk Breeders Association will discuss a model program for monitoring CWD. Sam Holland of the South Dakota Fish and Game department will talk about his state”s monitoring program. Dave Ladd, chair of the Big Game and Deer 2000 committees of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, will discuss potential plans for monitoring programs in Wisconsin and give the Deer 2000 update.
At 2 p.m., a panel discussion will review the disease and where we go from here in Wisconsin. Panel members will include Sarah Shapiro Hurley (a veterinarian and deputy administrator, land division, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources) Dr. Clarence Siroke (administrator, animal health, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection), Gary Nelson of Whitetails of Wisconsin, and Dr. Sam Vanisi of the Wisconsin Deer and Elk Association.
The symposium will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, July 27 in Room 101, Collins Classroom Center, 1801 4th Ave., Stevens Point. The registration fee is $10 and you can register at the door. It is sponsored by the Wisconsin DNR, Wisconsin DATCP, and UW-Extension.