BARNEVELD – Two of the busiest deer registration stations in southern Wisconsin last fall were all but written off.
Or so deer hunters thought.
Weeds grew up in and around the business bays where Department of Natural Resources employees and volunteers had for decades taken care of successful deer hunters.
Hunters, even those who were not part of a 14,000-hunter trail group last fall, knew about the coming of electronic registration. E-registration would make all of this driving into “town” to document a kill unnecessary.
But in some parts of the state, particularly where chronic wasting disease was discovered in 2002, and other places where CWD monitoring was advisable, in-person registration stations of some sort would be needed, not to register deer but to sample deer tissues.
Still, as long as the hunter was coming to have glands removed from a deer, and to encourage the hunter to do just that, why not have a phone and computer available to feed the registration into the business contracted to do the deer counting for the state?
Just days before the Nov. 21 gun deer season opener, DNR employees Julie Widholm, CWD operations coordinator, and Colleen Sutheimer, wildlife biologist from Fitchburg, came to Barneveld to stomp down the weeds, staple new maps onto plywood and unlock trailers and offices on wheels.
“We’ll be here every day of the gun deer season except Thanksgiving, from about 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.,” Widholm said. “We’ll collect CWD samples, age deer, accept deer carcass parts and scraps, and have equipment available to do e-registration.”
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The Black Earth station will do basically the same activities.
What the station in Barneveld will not do is accept deer donations going to food pantries. Those will have to go down the road to places such as Dick’s Meats near Mount Horeb.
Statewide, Widholm said the DNR has money to process about 4,000 CWD samples, down from 5,500 in 2014 and a mere 10 percent of the samples taken in 2002.
About five wildlife biologists will be working at Barneveld at any one time during the busiest days of the deer season.
The turnaround time for a CWD sample, which goes to Black Earth and then to a laboratory in Madison for the test for CWD prions, is anticipated to be about 15 days.
“The sampling is completely voluntary,” Widholm said, “so we’ll just ask hunters if they’d like to have us take a sample for CWD testing.”
In addition to these two open stations, more than 250 volunteer stations around the state will be helping hunters e-register their deer. Some will be involved in deer aging and collecting CWD samples, too.