Florence County takes steps against CWD

FLORENCE, Wis. — The recent discovery of chronic wasting disease in a deer at a breeding farm near Goodman in Marinette County prompted the Florence County Board on Tuesday to impose moratoriums both on importing any cervids — deer, elk, moose or caribou — into the county and establishing or expanding any cervid game farms in the county.

The board also will begin the process of crafting an ordinance so the moratoriums will have some “teeth,” Board Chairwoman Jeanette Bomberg said. With an ordinance in place, officers will be able to ticket offenders, she explained.

Only one deer farm exists in Florence County, on 40 acres in the town of Fence and crossing over into Forest County.

No CWD case has yet been confirmed in Florence County, Florence County Deer Advisory Council Chairman Dale Ebert said, but he pointed out the Goodman-area farm with the CWD-positive deer is less than 10 miles from both Florence and Forest counties.

Due to the proximity, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has enacted a ban on feeding or baiting deer in Florence and Forest counties, as well as Marinette County. The ban lasts two years, but could be renewed if more deer in the area test positive for CWD, Ebert said.

Residents still can feed birds and small mammals, as long as the feeding devices are within 50 yards of a home and at a sufficient height to prevent deer access, according to the DNR.

CWD is a fatal neurological disease in cervids caused by an infectious protein that affects the animal’s brain. It can be spread in game farms and in the wild through movement of infected animals, fence failures, escapes, contaminated soil moved off site by wind and water, contaminated trailers and equipment, and nose-to-nose contact, according to the board’s moratorium resolution.

In other business, the board:

— Heard from Florence County Forestry and Parks Administrator Patrick Smith that state Rep. Mary Felzkowski, R-Irma, objected to a state grant Florence County applied for to purchase a 214-acre parcel in the town of Homestead to add to the county forest. With the objection, the matter now will have to go through the joint finance committee, Smith said.

Smith asked the board to contact their local legislators to address the issue. The property has access to the Little Popple River and a snowmobile trail, as well as good timber value and proximity to other county forest land, Smith said.

— Agreed to look into joining a class action lawsuit to recover additional federal money under the Payment in Lieu of Taxes Act for fiscal years 2015 through 2017. The federal government underpaid local governments in those years, the lawsuit claims. The county has until Sept. 14 to send in the paperwork.

— Approved the 2017 audit report after a presentation by Certified Public Accountant Scott Sternhagen of Schenck SC.