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Farmer says Wisconsin should wait on elk plan without test for chronic wasting disease

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MARSHFIELD, Wisconsin — A farmer in central Wisconsin is voicing concern that a plan to move 150 elk to the state could also bring in disease.

Officials earlier this month announced a deal with Kentucky to capture its elk and send them to Wisconsin in the next five years, after making sure they're healthy.

News-Herald Media (http://mnhne.ws/1AIUQHL ) reports Pittsville elk farmer Ray Stauner said Wisconsin shouldn't go through with the plan without live-animal testing for chronic wasting disease.

The fatal illness turned up in Wisconsin in 2002.

"I'm all for having a herd of elk in the state, but they have to go about it in a smart way," Stauner said.

Chronic wasting disease has not been found in deer and elk in Kentucky, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. A message left with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources was not immediately returned.

Wisconsin has one elk herd of about 160 that live near Clam Lake in Ashland County. The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point brought in 25 Michigan elk in 1995, long after the animal disappeared from Wisconsin in the 1800s.

Under the new plan, an initial capture of 50 elk could be sent to Jackson County by June. Later elk would be split between there and Wisconsin's existing herd.

Wisconsin lawmakers restricted imports of deer and elk after the initial appearance of chronic wasting disease in the state, but limits for elk were relaxed in the 2013-15 state budget. The Department of Natural Resources has sought to bring in more elk since the 1990s.


Information from: News-Herald Media, http://www.marshfieldnewsherald.com

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