Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announced his proposed budget for the state for years 2023 – 2025 in February. While the budget includes funding recommendations for all the state’s departments, programs, and initiatives, some recommendations focused specifically on wildlife management activities. Namely, the Governor included three proposals to help offset the costs of chronic wasting disease (CWD) management in the state. However, recent amendments of the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate versions of the budget have eliminated the proposed CWD funding.
Please consider joining the National Deer Association (NDA) in encouraging Wisconsin lawmakers to include the Governor’s CWD-funding proposals into the final budget. Proposals included funding for carcass disposal sites, CWD education for hunters and improved capacity for and response to CWD testing and surveillance. CLICK HERE to ask your lawmakers to support CWD-specific line items in the ’23-’25 budget.
We know that CWD management and surveillance is expensive. In fact, Wisconsin spends $3 to $3.6 million annually on CWD testing and surveillance. Of that figure, about $1.7 million is on testing. The state tests an average of 18,500 deer annually at a cost of $91.50/sample when all associated costs are considered. Currently, very little dedicated state or federal funding is available to offset these costs, meaning that over $3 million of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) budget is being pulled from other programs to cover the costs associated with CWD management.
Governor Evers’ proposed budget contained multiple CWD-funding provisions, including:
- $1 million in one-time funding in fiscal year 2023-24 to issue grants for the purchase of deer carcass disposal sites to limit the spread of CWD;
- $50,000 in each year for CWD education for hunters; and
- $352,400 in fiscal year 2023-24, $469,800 in fiscal year 2024-25, and 6 full-time positions in both years of the biennium to the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for improved capacity for and response to CWD testing and surveillance.
Unfortunately, lawmakers pulled these provisions when crafting their own versions of the state budget. And while the Governor’s proposals don’t completely cover the funding needs of DNR, they are a step in the right direction. Dedicated budgetary funding is necessary because CWD management is only going to get more expensive.