Committee votes to keep deer farm fencing rule, scraps measure restricting carcass movement

Deer farms will continue to be subject to additional fencing requirements under a new emergency rule aimed at curbing chronic wasting disease after lawmakers declined to undo the provision.

But members of the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules opted to nix another set of requirements under the Department of Natural Resources rule that had placed prohibitions on the movement of deer carcasses from CWD-affected counties.

The committee’s votes yesterday evening came after some six hours of public testimony on the rule, which went into effect that same day.

Committee lawmakers had the option to suspend all or parts of the rule, as well as put forth legislative language codifying that suspension. Under the administrative rules process, the rule will stay partially suspended until the legislation is taken up or rejected by the full Legislature next session.

Members yesterday voted 6-4 along party lines to eliminate the provision of the rule that barred hunters from being able to transport deer carcasses harvested in CWD-affected areas out of the county, though there were some carve-outs for moving the full deer and quartering the carcass.

And they voted 6-4 to uphold additional fencing requirements for certain white-tailed deer farms that have had deer that tested positive for CWD. Those farms have to add either a second 8-foot fence or a “solid perimeter fence.” Meanwhile, deer farms without a CWD-positive hit are also required to add three strands of electric fence to their existing 8-foot tall fences.

Two Republicans — Sens. Duey Stroebel and Devin LeMahieu — joined the committee’s four Dems in voting to kill a motion to suspend the new fencing requirements.

Both Stroebel and LeMahieu said keeping in place that requirement — under which the white-tailed deer farms have to complete the additional fencing by October 2019 — would compel the Legislature to act on the issue and CWD more broadly come January.

“In the end, I support the governor on this,” said Stroebel, R-Saukville. Gov. Scott Walker had proposed the rule last May.

But other GOP committee members argued maintaining the rule would mean some deer farms would go out of business due to the costs of implementing new fencing.

“It’s very easy to tell your neighbor to build a fence when you yourself don’t have to pay for it,” Co-chair Sen. Steve Nass said. “We don’t know if fencing will help (curb the spread of CWD). We don’t know, but we’re going to tell deer farms anyway they have to build a fence.”

Still, others countered the Legislature could appropriate funding to help deer farmers cover those costs, while DNR could work toward a more flexible implementation timeline.

“We are in the driver’s seat right here,” said Rep. Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie.

See more on the debate in yesterday’s PM Update:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2018/mon-pm-update-new-independent-expenditures-committee-considers-scrapping-cwd-rule/

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