CWD Timeline-Anatomy of a Killer

2002 Wisconsin map of CWD results by county

CWD Facts

1967-Deer begin dying from a mystery disease at Foothills Wildlife Research Facility, Fort Collins, Colorado. In 1980 the illness is identified as chronic wasting disease. (CWD)
1981-First wild elk with CWD found inLarimar County, Colorado. Disease begins spreading into the northeast corner of the state.
1986-An elk in southeastern Wyomong is the first wild animal to test CWD positive there. By 2001 10% of Wyoming deer have CWD.
1996-Saskatchewan game farm is found to be infected with CWD.
1997-South Dakota game farm tests positive for CWD. Within a year two more farms are infested. 
1998-Game farm in Cherry County, Nebraska has CWD. First in the state.
1998-Second Saskatchewan game farm has CWD.
June 1998-A game farm in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma reports outbreak of CWD.
1999-Animals from a game farm near Philipsburg, Montana test CWD positive.
1999-Wisconsin begins testing deer for CWD, fearing game farm have imported CWD exposed elk.
March 2000 to July 2001-CWD concerns cause Saskathewan game officials to slaughter 4,600 elk at 29 game farms.
Fall 2000-Nebraska's first wild mule deer with CWD is killed by a hunter in Kimball County.
April 2001-Saskatchewan confirms first wild mule deer with CWD near Lloydminster. Two more positive tests follow.
September 2001-The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture declares a CWD emergency., begins creating a plan to eradicate it in game farm and in the wild.
October 2001-Eleven Colorado game farms placed under CWD quarantine. 450 elk from these game farms had been shipped to game farms in 15 states.
December 2001-Game farm in Anthony, Kansas reports states first case of CWD from an elk purchased from one of the now quarantined Colorado farms.
December 2001-Game farm in Souix County, Nebraska is CWD infected. Its whitetails test 43% positive.
February 2002-South Dakota reports first case of CWD in wild deer.
March 2002-Colorado finishes slaughtering 1,600 game farm elk from the 2001 quarantine.
March 2002-Wisconsin reports three deer taken during 2001 season were CWD positive.
April 2002-Wisconsin shoots 506 deer in the infected area and tests them for CWD. 14 are CWD positive.
May 2002-Wisconsin prepares to eradicate 15,000 deer in a 287 square mile area to stop the spread of CWD.
May 2002- Two more cases of chronic wasting disease have been found inside an elk ranch in southwestern Routt County, Colorado
May 23, 2002-Four more deer near Mount Horeb, Wi. tested positive for CWD. One of the deer was killed outside of the eradication zone, so the zone will be expanded by 74 square miles. The tests initially came back negative, but additional tests of the lymph nodes were done, and those tests showed infection. That suggests that the deer were in the earlier stages of infection, than those whose brain stems show infection.
June 17, 2002-A total of 262 deer were killed in the first week in an effort to kill 25,000 deer. There are three more 1 week hunts planned before bow season opens. Landowners shot 170 deer and sharpshooters killed 92.
June 21,2002-A mule deer from white Sands Missile Range, Albuquerque, New Mexico has tested positive for CWD. It is the first case verified in this state. Game officials are banning the importation of deer and elk.
June26, 2002-The Wisconsin State Natural Resources board voted 6-1 in favor of a number of measures they hope will stop the spread of CWD. The most controversial is the banning of feeding and baiting deer until June 2004.
August 3, 2002-6 more cases of CWD have been found in the 261 deer tested from the special hunt June 8 to June 14 in Wisconsin. Two of the deer killed were near the boundary of the current zone so the DNR is going to extend the zone by 13 square miles to 374 square miles. The next special hunt is Aug. 10 to 16.
August 31, 2002-Seven more deer out of 336 that were shot in the special season in July tested positive. Another 15 square miles was added to the eradication zone. Minnesota found its first CWD case in an elk that was part of a farm raised herd in Aitkin County. Minnesota plans to immediately kill and test wild deer in the vicinity of the elk farm.
October 15, 2002-Out of 669 deer tested on Wisconsin game farms only one has tested positive for CWD. A panel of experts at UW Madison has determined that by leaving the disease alone will only fan its distribution. They also say that hunters should not use the test for CWD to judge the safety of the venison. They say the risk for contracting CWD from eating infected venison is very low.
October 18, 2002- 9 more wild deer tested and 1 doe on a second game farm tested positive for CWD. That brings the total to 40 deer that have tested positve in the eradication zone west of Madison. Wardens want to inspect 590 deer farms by the end of the year, by checking fences and in some cases checking the financial records of the sales and purchasas of deer.
November 3, 2002- Wildlife officials have confirmed the first known case of CWD in deer in Illinois. A deer was shot Oct. 23 just east of Roscoe near the Wisconsin border.
November 5, 2002- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will spend about $500,000 to commission a study whether CWD can jump from deer to other species.
December 4, 2002-CWD has been discovered for the first time in a wild deer outside the eradication zone. A 3 year old buck shot in Grant County during the gun hunt tested positive for the disease. The testing was done by a private diagnostic lab from test kits available through sporting goods stores.
December 7, 2002-Early results have shown that CWD has not spread beyond an area near Mount Horeb. The DNR has tested 662 deer shot in the 10 county zone that surrounds the eradication zone. None has tested positive.
December 13, 2002-All 118 deer on a deer farm in Walworth County were killed by federal sharpshooters. All of the deer will be tested for CWD. A deer tested positive on Sept. 30 for the disease so a decision was made to test the rest of the deer. The oldest deer on the farm were about 15 years old.
December 14, 2002-A deer that escaped from the Walworth County farm and roamed freely for at least six months has tested positive. The deer was shot by sharpshooters on Oct. 22. It is the first escaped deer in Wisconsin to test positive. So far no wild deer have tested positive for the disease outside of the eradication zone.
December 22, 2002-The states latest round of testing revealed no new cases of CWD in the wild. 5,045 deer have been tested from ouside the quarantine area and none were infected. The state will be testing a total of 37, 938 deer from this falls hunt. Meanwhile Illinois has reported a total of four positives, all in counties bordering Wisconsin.
December 29,2002-73 more deer were tested and none were positive. The small number of deer tested was due to the holidays.
January 4, 2003-7, 785 deer have been tested so far. 50 have tested positive and they are from Dane and Iowa counties. So far it looks like the disease hasn't spread beyond the eradication zone. A private lab has reported that 3 deer it examined tested positive, however state official's have disputed the accuracy of the lab's tests.
January 8, 2003- State officials decided Tuesday to allow baiting in the hot zone, to extend the season to March 31, and to bring in government sharpshooters. So far only 8,000 of the estimated 30,000 deer in that area have been killed. The 8,000 deer killed is equivalent to a yearly fawn crop in the area. Wildlife biologists say that 10,000 to 12,000 deer must be harvested to get the density down to 20 to 25 deer per square mile. The agency is considering paying a bounty to landowners for every deer killed, but funding and liability issues may scuttle that.
January 9, 2003-Stanley Hall, owner of Buckhorn Flats game farm is going to court to block the state from killing the animals. The first captive animal to test positive came from the game farm. Hall said he retained some of the brain tissue and had it tested at a Wyoming lab, which found no evidence of the disease. Calls to the DNR were not returned yet. State law allows for a second test if the initial test is positive. The DNR killed all 118 deer on the game farm of James Hirschboek after one deer tested positive. The Hirschboek farm came under suspicion after authorities traced his purchase of deer from Hall.
January 11, 2003- Five infected deer were found outside the hot zone, 1 in Richland County and 4 in western Iowa County. The new cases were still inside the management zone, which extends 40 miles beyond the area where the disease was fisrt detected. The deer in Richland County was killed 16 miles from the hot zone boundary and the Iowa County deer were up to 12 miles from the boundary. So far 9,064 deer have been tested.
January 18, 2003- State agencies have spent about $11.5 million on CWD in Wisconsin. The estimate includes the salaries of wildlife experts who have devoted their timr to the problem. That figure means the state has spent the equivalent of $209,000 for each of the 55 deer that tested positive. $1.1 million was spent last fall to collect thousand of deer heads from hunters across the state, and about $1.6 million was spent disposing of the deer. A big bulk of the upfront costs were to get the project started.
February 2, 2003-3 more deer test positive in the hot zone. 1,390 new samples were analyzed last week. So far 13,977 deer have been tested which is 36% of the deer that will be tested. 2.21% of the deer in the hot zone have tested positive. In the broader 10 county management zone 5 deer have tested positive an incidence of 0.9%.
February 8, 2003-With 16, 119 or 41% of the results in the DNR said that no new cases were found in the last week.
February 15, 2003-With 18,838 deer tested there were no new cases of CWD.
March 9, 2003-With 26,232 deer tested 62 have been infected. 33 from Dane County, 27 from Iowa County, 1 from Richland County and 1 from Sauk County.Wisconsin's eradication initiative is the biggest in the country. The testing of almost 40,000 deer is the most comprehensive of any state. the incidence rate in the hot zone is 1.9%.
March 15, 2003-Two new cases of CWD were found out of 2,055 more deer tested. The two deer that tested positive came out of Dane County. A total of 64 deer have tested positive. 28,287 deer have been tested.
March 20, 2003-436 deer have escaped from farms to wild State finds violations, lax record keeping at many sites, report says A state inspection of private deer farms, prompted by the discovery of chronic wasting disease, found that 436 white-tailed deer escaped into the wild, officials said Tuesday.onic Wasting Disease Game Farms Inspected A summary of the findings of the Department of Natural Resources' inspection of 550 private white-tailed deer farms in the state: The deer farms contained at least 16,070 deer, but the DNR believes there are more deer in captivity than that because large deer farms are unable to accurately count their deer. 671 deer had escaped from game farms, including 436 that were never found. 24 farmers were unlicensed. One had been operating illegally since 1999 after he was denied a license because his deer fence did not meet minimum specifications. Records maintained by operators ranged from "meticulous documentation to relying on memory." At least 227 farms conducted various portions of their deer farm business with cash. Over the last three years, 1,222 deer died on farms for various reasons. Disease testing was not performed nor required on the majority of deer. Farmers reported doing business with people in 22 other states and one Canadian province. The Department of Natural Resources found that captive deer have escaped from one-third of the state's 550 deer farms over the lifetime of the operations. The agency also uncovered hundreds of violations and has sought a total of 60 citations or charges against deer farm operators. These and other findings come as state officials say they are still no closer to understanding how the fatal deer disease got to Wisconsin.
March 24,2003-16 new cases were found in the latest round of testing. 2,574 deer were analyzed this week. A total of 80 deer have been found to be infected. All of the infected deer were from the eradication zone.
March 26, 2003-CWD has been found in a farm raised elk in Manitowoc County marking the first time in Wi. that it has been found in an animal other than a deer. The 6 year old female elk, one of 20 imported by a Valders elk farmer from Stearns County, Minn. tested positive after dying in a fight with another elk. One elk died earlier and was not tested. The remaining 18 elk were killed for testing. 6 game farms imported elk from Minn. and all are quarantined since Sept. when the Minn. game farm had an elk that tested positive.
March 30, 2003-14 more deer test positive bringing the total to 94. All were killed within the three county eradication zone. The DNR figures about 2% of the deer in that area are infected. The illness which jeopardizes the state's $1 billion hunting industry was discovered near Mt. Horeb in February 2002.
April 5, 2003-36 new cases were found in the latest round of testing. 2655 samples were tested this week. That brings the total to 130 infected deer out of 35,196 deer tested. 40,002 deer will be tested for the last season..
April 19, 2003-49 more deer were found with CWD, all within the hot zone. That brings the total number of infected deer to 190 or about 2% of the deer tested in that area. 39,012 of the 40,111 deer have been tested. Of the diseased deer, 99 were in Iowa County, 89 were in Dane County, 1 in each in Richland and Sauk Counties.
May 3, 2003-With all 41, 046 deer tested there have been 207 positive cases, all within the zone. Dane county had 97 cases, Iowa county had 107 cases, 2 cases in Sauk county and 1 case in Richland county.

May 14, 2003-Six wild fawns that were killed last fall have tested positive for CWD, state officials announced last week. The fawns were 5 to 6 months old. Officials had previosly believed CWD didn't begin to appear in white-tailed deer until the animal was at least 16 months old.

The six fawns were shot in Wisconsin's 411-square-mile CWD eradication zone, where 4,200 fawns less than a year old were tested for CWD last fall.
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July 2, 2003-To fight the spread of CWD, the DNR wants to create a special zone in and near Beloit, where hunters and sharpshooters will try to wipe out the deer population. Covering 25 square miles, the area lies alon the Wisconsin-Illinois border and within 4 1/2 miles of where a deer in northern Illinois tested positive for the disease. None of the 308 deer killed last season in Rock County tested positive.
August 12, 2003-A sickly deer shot in a village park in Fontana on the west end of Lake Geneva has tested positive for CWD the DNR reported Monday.
August 16, 2003-The Dnr will test between 20,00 and 25,00 deer in selected counties this year, compared to 41,000 deer in all 72 counties. They will be using a rapid test so hunters will know in a matter of weeks instead of months to see if the deer they shot tests positive.
December 3, 2003-Every deer in the herd reduction zone and intensive harvest zone is being tested. 11, 500 samples have been collected and 2,100 have been tested since the archery season began in Sept. Of those 18 tested positive bringing the total of infected deer to 226.
December 5, 2003-A 4th deer from a Portage county hunting preserve has tested positive for CWD. A 5 1/2 year old deer shot at Buckhorn Flats game farm in Almond tested positive. The farms owner told the agency that the deer was born on the farm. Sixteen herds in Wisconsin are quarantined over the disease. Six other herds are linked to this case. Two received animals from a positive herd in Minnesota and seven other are in the state's eradication zone.
January 12, 2004-CWD has spread into Kenosha County for the first time after a yearly buck tested positive after it was shot last fall. So far they have tested 85% of the 14,290 deer that were sampled from the 2003 season. Of that, 57 tested positive.