- A new plan calls for paying Wisconsin hunters a thousand dollars or more for killing a deer with chronic wasting disease.
Supporters believe the "bounty" system could slow the spread of the deadly illness. The proposal appears to have support in the state, but has others concerned about cost.
About 57 percent of voters at this spring's Conservation Congress hearings backed the plan. It would give hunters between $750 and $1,250 dollars if they killed a deer found to have CWD after a test.
"Folks are getting very worried about what this disease can do to our Wisconsin deer hunting culture," said Mike Foy, a retired DNR wildlife biologist. "If we don't find some way to slow down or stop this disease, I think that the deer hunting economy is clearly at risk."
Foy is promoting the plan through his group, Payments4Positives.
Kurt Justice, the vice chair of the Vilas Co. Conservation Congress, is concerned about CWD.
But he's also concerned about the cost of the pilot program. It would give away about $1 million in bounties.
"Where does this money come from?" Justice asked. "The amount is a little shocking to me, personally. I don't think hunting should be about bounties, but obviously, this is a different situation."
But Foy believes $1 million is worthwhile if it helps protect Wisconsin's $1 billion deer hunting industry from CWD.
"I think, in the long run, or in the big picture, you can easily justify $1 million to try and see if you have the tool," Foy said. "There's been a lot of discussions about how to slow it down or go on defense to keep it from getting in other areas, but, at some point, you can't play defense forever. You've got to start going on offense."
The state legislature would have to approve spending taxpayer money on the program.
Written By: Ben Meyer