The approach of deer season has the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources asking that hunters join in helping slow the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD).

The disease affects deer, elk, moose and reindeer. It is always fatal, and incubation periods of more than a year can mean infected deer appear healthy long before symptoms appear. Symptoms generally include weight loss, drooping heads and ears, loss of coordination, and a loss of fear of humans.

Hunters “play a crucial role in helping to control the spread of CWD,” the department said in an announcement. Hunters have deer tested, helping officials track cases, and when they properly dispose of carcass waste it can protect the rest of the state’s deer herd.

The Wisconsin DNR asks that hunters check baiting and feeding restrictions for their counties. When baiting and feeding are allowed, the DNR still asks that hunters reconsider.

This year the department is asking that farmers in northeastern Wisconsin make a special effort to ensure their adult deer are tested. A form in each hunter’s Go Wild harvest history can help, automatically filling in contact information and the harvest registration number. Samples can be submitted through self-service kiosks, meat processors and taxidermists, county wildlife biologists, and kits for hunters to extract tissue for submission.

Additional information on preventing the spread of CWD is available on the Wisconsin DNR website.

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