Wisconsin wildlife officials have exceeded their goal of shooting 500 deer to test them for a deadly brain disease, state officials said Sunday.
State sharpshooters and private landowners have shot 503 deer through Sunday, said Department of Natural Resources spokesman Bob Manwell.
Landowners, concerned the impact the disease will have on the herd, supplied the vast portion of the 503 deer killed, Manwell said.
"I think everybody is certainly concerned," Manwell said. "They want to know what's going on and they've been very helpful."
DNR biologist Carl Batha said officials will wait for the results of brain tissue tests to return from a lab in Ames, Iowa, before deciding how to proceed. No reliable method exists to detect chronic wasting disease in live animals, so they must be killed for testing.
Chronic wasting disease, also known as mad deer disease, causes animals to grow thin as it destroys their brains.
The disease has not been found in Minnesota deer.
In February, Wisconsin wildlife officials announced three deer killed by hunters north of Mount Horeb last fall tested positive for the disease, the first time it was discovered east of the Mississippi River.
Wildlife officials ordered the killing of 500 deer in a 415-square-mile-area of Dane and Iowa counties near Mount Horeb to see how deep the disease has spread.
Manwell said of 272 deer tested so far, nine tested positive for the disease -- bringing the total to 12 confirmed cases.
No target date for the complete results has been set, Manwell said.
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