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Walker seeks tougher rules on chronic wasting disease

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Scott Walker directed state agencies on Wednesday to develop emergency regulations requiring captive-deer farms to strengthen their fencing and restrict deer movement in an attempt to slow the spread of chronic wasting disease, saying it’s time to get more aggressive in the fight against the fatal brain ailment.

State officials have been struggling to find an effective strategy against CWD since it was discovered in Wisconsin in 2002. Walker has been criticized by Democrats for adopting a largely hands-off strategy centered on monitoring the disease’s spread and on research.

According to the Department of Natural Resources’ website, 25 counties have confirmed having a CWD-positive wild deer and 12 counties have seen a captive deer test positive. Last month, Oneida County recorded a CWD-positive deer, signaling the disease is spreading north from its central infection area in south-central Wisconsin. The news comes just as Walker is ramping up his re-election campaign.

“It’s just clear to us that we need to do more,” Walker said during an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday. “We want to show those who hunt here and those we’re trying to attract to hunt here that we’re doing all the right things to combat chronic wasting disease.”

The governor ordered the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to develop an emergency rule requiring deer farmers to do one of three things: install a second 8-foot-tall fence, install an electric fence or install an impermeable physical barrier. Deer farms now must have a single 8-foot fence.

Department of Natural Resources officials in 2016 allowed theses sorts of farms to opt out of the state’s CWD monitoring program without strengthening their fences. Until that point farms that didn’t participate in monitoring had to install double or solid fencing.

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