The University of Wisconsin has asserted its voice on the issue of Chronic Waste Disease, offering its scientific resources to the state’s search for solutions. The advisory panel comprised of UW faculty met Monday to discuss techniques for dealing with CWD.
CWD, a disease that afflicts deer populations and may have consequences for human health, was found in the south-central area of the state.
In lending their expertise to the state’s Department of Natural Resources, the panel hopes to ease the burden of difficult decision-making by offering neutral viewpoints and solutions, said panel-member John Carey, senior information-processing consultant for the Department of Wildlife Ecology.
Many of state officials’ difficulties in taking definitive action, Carey said, result from the politically charged nature of the CWD issues. The amount of deer testing to be conducted, who allows the testing, how to dispose of the infected deer bodies and the refusal of hunters to kill deer they will not eat are all issues with political implications, he said.
“Efforts to take action run up against a lot of agendas,” Carey said. “The university or even a blue-ribbon panel could take a more neutral viewpoint.”
According to Chancellor Wiley, in the future the university will try to form a CWD advisory council to evaluate the courses of action and make recommendations to the state.
“We want the council to be inclusive but still authoritative,” Carey added, indicating that experts from other universities, states or countries would be invited to join.
The statement issued by the panel outlined some of the major issues they identified for further investigation. Concerns included the spread of the disease through transfer of deer between game farms, feasible methods of deer testing, potential affects of CWD on the ecology and economy of the state, and the lack of information surrounding the spread of the disease to humans or other animals.
The panel admitted its knowledge of CWD and its effects was lacking, but asserted that waiting for more information could be detrimental to the state.
“On balance, the skeptics are correct: Many of their concerns cannot be answered, or answered with certainty,” the statement read. “What is certain, however, is that our best chance to contain this disease — and to eliminate the unknown possibilities associated with its spread — is now.”
Chancellor Wiley said he hopes an advisory council will bring clarity and fresh perspectives to the table, thus providing support and aid to the DNR.
“There is no question that ? chronic wasting disease in deer poses a threat not only to animal, and potentially human, health, but to the economy, the environment and the social traditions of Wisconsin,” Wiley said in a statement. “The disease needs to be quickly stamped out, and the plan put in place by the DNR, so far, represents our best hope of eradicating CWD from our state.”
The proposed advisory council’s removed stance, Carey said, would be its biggest asset in helping the DNR.
“These are very contentious issues, and sometimes it’s good to have a little distance between the people talking and the people doing,” Carey said.