Deer in field

Excitement levels are high as hunters prepare for the nine-day gun deer hunting season, beginning Nov. 21.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff will not be available for in-person chronic wasting disease (CWD) sampling in southern Wisconsin during the 2020 nine-day gun deer season Nov. 21-29 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This includes locations that have offered DNR-staffed in-person sampling during past seasons such as in Barneveld and Black Earth. Multiple self-serve CWD kiosks remain available for hunters to submit CWD samples.

“The safety of hunters and DNR employees is of the highest priority,” said Bret Owsley, DNR Southern District Wildlife Supervisor. “We have precautions in place to protect the health of staff and hunters, and we cannot safely offer in-person sampling this year. Instead, we will provide additional self-serve kiosks in locations where we have traditionally offered staffed sampling. Because of these kiosks, hunters won’t have to go out of their way to find a new sampling location.”

Hunters have several CWD sampling options across southern Wisconsin. All locations are available on the following DNR interactive map and searchable database. In addition to a network of 24/7 self-service sampling kiosks, many meat processors and other area businesses offer in-person sampling assistance.

“Hunters should contact sampling station locations in advance to verify hours of operation,” Owsley said. “We thank these private businesses for their continued contribution to CWD sample collection and the valuable service they provide to area hunters.”

Although in-person sampling is postponed, there are a few exceptions. To make special arrangements for European mounts and large bucks, please call your local DNR wildlife biologist to set up an appointment for sampling after harvest and registration. The DNR urges hunters to contact their usual sampling location in advance to see if sampling operations have changed due to COVID-19. Hunters interested in collecting their own CWD sample from their harvested deer can contact their local wildlife staff to receive a CWD sample kit with instructions.

New this year, hunters can submit the necessary data with each CWD sample online rather than using a paper form. Hunters can find this digital form in their registration confirmation email and in their harvest history in Go Wild. Hunters will need to be at a CWD sampling location when completing the electronic form and must have their harvest authorization number, harvest location and contact information when submitting a sample with either the paper or online digital form.

A CWD sample consists of the deer head with 3-5 inches of neck attached. To view CWD results for a harvested deer, visit the CWD test results webpage. Hunters will need to enter a customer ID or CWD sample barcode number to view test results.

This year, hunters should expect results 2-3 weeks after the deer head or tissue sample is received unless unforeseen circumstances cause further delay in either field operations or at the CWD processing center.

Hunters are also reminded to keep COVID-19 safety measures in mind when out in the field. As Wisconsin continues to see record-setting numbers of positive cases of COVID-19, health and safety is paramount.

On Nov. 10, Gov. Tony Evers issued Executive Order #94 outlining new measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19. This order advises Wisconsinites to stay home, use extra precautions if they must leave their home and adopt good public health practices. Businesses are also encouraged to take further steps to protect workers, customers and the surrounding community.

“We thank hunters for their patience as we continue to provide our services during these unprecedented times,” Owsley said.

More information on CWD is available on the DNR website.

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