NORTHWOODS - At Jan Alsager's Three Lakes preserve, hunters pay to get their shot at a trophy deer.
Story By Erin Beu
"I've built up my business the way I would want," said Alsager.
He took over the property in 2015, but soon, encountered a problem he thinks is overblown.
"The CWD is not this highly contagious, always fatal disease that [the DNR] wants to make it out to be," said Alsager.
The DNR confirmed two deer tested positive for chronic wasting disease on his property in late 2015. Then, five new cases popped up in 2016.
It let to baiting and feeding bans still in effect as an effort to slow the spread.
"They only seem to find the disease in their lab," said Alsager.
He doesn't believe CWD is as serious as the DNR makes it out to be.
"[They say,] 'Well studies show...studies shows.' Well, I'm tired of hearing about studies shows and assumptions, I want to see scientific evidence," said Alsager.
The DNR says there's no question, CWD is here and it's a threat.
DNR Deer Biologist Curt Rollman pointed to CWD cases affecting deer all over the country.
"There is the potential for hurting deer population, it is an always fatal disease in deer," said Rollman.
It was identified in southern Wisconsin in the early 2000's, but has since spread north.
"It's not going away," said Rollman.
"CWD in my opinion has only hurt the hunting industry," said Alsager.
Alsager isn't the only one who thinks that. Wildlife disease specialist Dr. Don Davis told The Wisconsin State Journal last October, "Much of the concern about CWD is rooted in fear. One fear is how it might affect deer and hunting opportunities…That fear is overblown."
Since Alsager's animals have tested positive for CWD, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has quarantined his land. He can't add more live animals to his preserve and can't take any live animals out.
"I own them. And what I do with them on my property is my business," said Alsager.
Wisconsin Whitetail Trustee Dr. James Kroll seemed to agree. The state hired Kroll in 2011 to review deer management.
In 2016, Kroll noted the disease isn't a game farm or hunting preserve problem. The disease is coming from the wild.
"Deer farms are not the perpetrators of CWD, they are the victims," said Kroll.
Rollman's advice to any doubters of CWD is to be patient and cautious.
"It is new to northern Wisconsin," said Rollman.
However, Alsager says the state shouldn't make decisions that hurt his business if wild deer are to blame.
"It has nothing to do with stopping a disease. It has to do with putting us out of business," said Alsager.
His deer farm is still in business, just under quarantine.
The DNR hasn't found evidence that humans can get sick from eating an infected deer.