10/03/2019

During the 2019 hunting season, hunters may spot deer that are equipped with radio collars. Collared deer are part of a mortality study in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and are legal to hunt with a standard Wisconsin hunting license and tags.

The DNR Office of Applied Science is conducting a five-year mortality study called the Southwest Wisconsin Chronic Wasting Disease, Deer, and Predator Project. Researchers are investigating factors like CWD, predation and hunter harvest, and specifically to what degree these affect survivorship in deer. So far, the project crew has put GPS-enabled collars on 548 deer in Grant, Iowa and Dane counties.

collared deer
Photo credit: Jerry Davis

"One of our study objectives is to determine what proportion of our deer herd is harvested each year, and how exactly that differs according to how old the deer is, between bucks and does and between deer that are CWD-infected and those that are not," said DNR Deer Research Scientist Daniel Storm. "That objective depends on hunters essentially treating collared deer like any other deer when deciding whether or not to harvest."

Deer that are collared as part of the Southwest CWD, Deer, and Predator study are legal to harvest. Standard licensing and harvest regulations apply to collared deer just as they do to uncollared deer. Anyone who harvests a collared deer is asked to call the number on the collar so that a crew member can retrieve it. The number to call is 608-935-1940.

The DNR recommends testing for CWD for both collared and uncollared deer. CWD is a transmissible type of spongiform encephalopathy that causes fatal brain and nervous system degeneration in ungulate species like deer, elk, and moose. CWD testing is typically only done post-mortem. To better understand CWD in Wisconsin, the DNR needs to test as many deer as possible for the disease. To that end, getting deer tested is an important step. For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "CWD sampling."

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