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Bounties for deer kills? Survey shows support for plan to fight CWD spreadSubmitted: 04/29/2019
Story By Ben Meyer

Bounties for deer kills? Survey shows support for plan to fight CWD spread
MINOCQUA - 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.

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Public Lands Forester, of Florence County, Tyler Wood explained how the Emerald Ash Borer likes to travel on firewood, to reduce the spread to other places, burn the wood in the same place you bought or gathered it.

"The Emerald Ash Borer can fly easily about a half a mile, and up to maybe 5 miles away from a host tree to find another tree in order to infect that tree," said Wood.

Though there won't be a significant impact on the environment in Florence county, not knowing if your tree is infected could lead to safety concerns around your property or for people with streets lined with the trees, dangerous roadways could occur during storms.

Forest Health Specialist, Linda Williams, spoke about how the future extinction would affect more than just the forest. The MLB uses ash trees to make their baseball bats, as well as the local Native American tribes whos culture traditions create baskets from ash.

"The Emerald Ash Borer will kill the Ash Trees. And we've seen that happening in southern Wisconsin as well as other states that have had it for much longer than us. Other species of trees tend to come into those sites sometimes they are desirable species and some are not," said Williams..

If you are a concerned ash tree owner some signs that your tree has been infested is the outer bark removed by woodpeckers, and D-shaped holes where the insects have emerged.

For people with 10 plus acres you can file a request with the DNR to have a walk through to understand how to manage the Emerald Ash Borer at mywisconsinwoods.org.


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