GOP Sen. Steve Nass is looking to take steps to roll back an emergency rule aimed at slowing the spread of chronic wasting disease.

The Whitewater Republican has targeted the new Department of Natural Resources rule, which includes additional fencing requirements at deer farms and prohibitions on the movement of deer carcasses from CWD-affected counties, saying the changes would burden Wisconsin hunters.

Under the rule, which is slated to go into effect Oct. 1, hunters wouldn’t be able to transport deer carcasses harvested in CWD-affected areas out of the county, though hunters could move the whole deer if they’re heading to a licensed meat processor. Hunters can still quarter their deer in the county it was harvested in and move the meat as long as the deer’s head and spinal column aren’t moved as well.

Nass, who co-chairs the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, wrote in an email to members of the Senate and Assembly yesterday that he’s hoping to hold a public hearing and executive session to suspend aspects — or all — of the rule once it takes effect.

“This emergency rule contains substantial and burdensome changes to the way Wisconsin hunters will deal with deer carcasses with little advance notice or education,” he wrote in the email.

Nass spokesman Mike Mikalsen said the senator’s concerned hunters won’t know about the new requirements surrounding deer carcasses because of the shortened time frame under the emergency rule process.

Instead, Mikalsen suggested completing it through the normal rule process in the lead-up to the 2019 deer season. That effort, he said, could be paired with legislative action to appropriate more money for CWD testing, as well as a stricter framework dictating how to deal with carcasses.

Doing it that way, he noted, would give the larger hunting community an ability to weigh in and be involved at every step.

Outgoing Rep. Adam Jarchow has also been vocal in his opposition to the rule, urging Gov. Scott Walker in a letter last week to reject it. Jarchow wrote there’s “absolutely zero evidence the rule will have any substantive impact” on confining the spread of CWD.

The Balsam Lake Republican, who shared the letter on Twitter, also raised issues about the rule’s timing, the “incredible hardship” it would cause hunters and Walker’s decision not to address the issue with the help of the Legislature earlier this session.

Walker in May proposed the new rules, which the DNR’s Natural Resources Board adopted at its meeting in August. Walker and a DNR official signed off on the rule early this month.

Walker spokeswoman Amy Hasenberg didn’t return a request for comment.

DNR spokesman Jim Dick declined to comment on what actions the Legislature may take, adding: “Right now, this rule, aimed at preventing the spread of CWD, will go into effect October 1 as published.”

A spokeswoman for Rep. Joan Ballweg, the Assembly co-chair of JCRAR, said the Markesan Republican is still talking to stakeholders and gathering information before making a decision.

The new rule would also require certain white-tailed deer farms who have had deer that tested positive for CWD to add either a second 8-foot fence or a “solid perimeter fence” with a strand of electrified wire running through it. Deer farms are already required to have an 8-foot fence. The additional fencing would need to be finished by October 2019.

The rule would also require deer farms without a CWD-positive hit to add three strands of electric fence to their existing 8-foot tall fences.

The rule doesn’t contain any requirements regarding the movement of live deer from CWD-affected counties. That’s because live farm-raised deer are regulated by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Dick said.

DATCP spokesman Bill Cosh said the DATCP Board hasn’t taken action on the emergency scope statement, so no emergency rule is advancing at this point.

By Briana Reilly

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