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PRAIRIE DU CHIEN - The Wisconsin Department of Justice has settled a lawsuit against Crawford County residents Curtis and Renee Christensen for violations of state regulations related to the keeping and Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) testing of farm-raised deer, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today.
The Department of Justice filed suit against the Christensens at the request of the State of Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). DATCP had quarantined then condemned Christensens' herd after a deer in that herd tested positive for CWD. The Christensens denied that their deer had CWD, and filed legal and administrative challenges to CWD testing protocols and to DATCP orders. DATCP revised its condemnation order after a second deer tested positive for CWD, and while administrative appeals were pending, Mr. Christensen killed and buried the remainder of his herd. The State filed suit seeking a court order requiring that the deer be exhumed so that they could be tested for CWD. By the time the deer were dug up, they were too decomposed to provide any useful information to DATCP. By killing and burying his deer, Mr. Christensen foreclosed the possibility of obtaining federal and state indemnity payments for the deer.
At a hearing in November 2009, the Crawford County Circuit Court found that Christensens had violated the law by failing to have 23 deer tested for CWD. The Court also found that they had violated state registration and recordkeeping requirements. The parties agreed to settle the case just before the hearing where the Court was going to set forfeitures for these violations.
In addition to the $10,000, and as part of the parties' settlement, Christensens also agreed to clean and disinfect the pens where they kept deer, to arrange for tissue samples from their herd to be destroyed, and to dismiss two administrative proceedings challenging DATCP orders still pending before DATCP.
Grant County Circuit Court Judge Craig R. Day approved the parties' settlement agreement. Assistant Attorney General Diane Milligan represented the State.