News from around Wisconsin at 5:28 a.m. CST

Wis. Democrats say DNR must do more to stop CWDMADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democrats on the state Assembly’s natural resources committee demanded Wednesday that state wildlife officials step up the fight against chronic wasting disease, tearing the scab off a bitter decade-old debate over how best to handle the fatal brain ailment.

They criticized the Department of Natural Resources during a hearing on deer management for bowing to public pressure to quit trying to reduce the deer herd in hopes of slowing the disease’s spread.

“At some point … you need to suck it up and deal with it,” committee member Chris Danou, D-Trempeleau, told DNR officials. “The passive approach just isn’t going to work. Just because some people are griping, we’re going to let it spread? What are we going to do? Just watch it happen?”

CWD produces microscopic holes in cervids’ brain tissue, causing weight loss, tremors, strange behavior and eventually death. The disease was first detected in Wisconsin near Mount Horeb in 2002. The discovery sent a shock wave through the state, known around the world for its deer hunting traditions.

The DNR’s reaction remains a sore spot among hunters. The agency immediately adopted a plan that called for reducing the local herd to slow the disease’s spread, employing sharpshooters and asking hunters and landowners to kill as many deer as possible in the area.

The strategy turned into a public relations disaster. Landowners and hunters refused to get on board, calling herd reduction unattainable and a waste of deer. A 2006 audit found the number of deer in the area had actually increased.

The DNR has since turned to a strategy of testing dead deer for the disease, tracking the disease’s locations and gauging its prevalence. Texas deer researcher James Kroll backed up those tactics in a 2012 review of Wisconsin DNR policies he produced for Republican Gov. Scott Walker, saying the state should take a passive approach.


Man arrested in UWSP student heroin OD deathSTEVENS POINT, Wis. (AP) — Police have arrested a 26-year-old Hancock man in the heroin overdose death of a UW-Stevens Point student.

Stevens Point police said Wednesday an autopsy found that 21-year-old Jordan Peterson died of a heroin overdose on Nov. 17.

Detectives determined that the suspect gave the heroin to Peterson the day he died.

WAOW-TV ( reports Peterson was found dead in his off-campus home by a roommate.

Police plan to recommend charges of first-degree homicide. The suspect has not been formally charged. He remains in the Portage County Jail.


Information from: WAOW-TV, http://www.waow.com


Wisconsin ranked 37th in private sector job growthMADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin declined in private-sector job growth rankings for the latest reporting period, dropping from 32nd to 37th in the nation, a point that Democrats continue to exploit against Gov. Scott Walker as he seeks re-election next year.

The figures released Wednesday are a key benchmark, picked by Walker, to measure how well he is meeting his 2010 campaign promise to add 250,000 private sector jobs by the end of next year. He’s nowhere close to meeting the pledge. Through his first two years in office, only 63,000 jobs were created, putting Wisconsin on pace to only get about halfway to the goal.

Walker on Tuesday, in an interview with The Associated Press, said it was fair to judge him on his jobs promise, but he believed voters would also assess him based on progress that’s been made and whether his opponent offers a better alternative.

“For the people on the left, this has never really been about whether you make it or not,” the Republican Walker said of his political opponents and the jobs promise. “It’s a gotcha. They want it to be all about that magic number. … People are smart enough to say it’s not just a matter of whether you get there within one job or not, it’s what’s the alternative?”

Democrats have pointed to Wisconsin’s lagging job-creation numbers as a sign that Walker’s policies aren’t working. Walker has blamed a number of factors, including uncertainty caused by his recall election in 2012 and the status of the federal health care overhaul law, as making employers nervous about hiring.

On Tuesday, Walker said job growth under his watch was negatively affected by decisions made by his Democratic predecessor, Gov. Jim Doyle.

“In many ways part of our challenge of getting our jobs number is it’s taken us some time to recover from two terms of Jim Doyle,” Walker said. “I don’t know that most people recognizing that would say the answer, the alternative to where we are now, is to go back and essentially invoke a third term of Jim Doyle.”


Wis. AG says he’s not positioned for higher officeMADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said he doesn’t plan on running for higher office or joining a private law firm after he leaves office at the end of next year.

Van Hollen, a Republican, told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday that he doesn’t know what he’ll do when his term ends. Van Hollen abruptly announced in October that he wouldn’t seek election in 2014.

“I don’t know where I’m going to be,” Van Hollen said. “I made my decision to depart on a wide variety of different issues but none of them were the fact I had something out there waiting for me.”

Asked if he might consider a run for the state Supreme Court in 2015, he said it was too early to explore or commit to anything. But he said he has no plans to run for a higher office such as U.S. Senate or governor — and if he did, it’d be better to run for a third term as attorney general.

Asked if he planned to join a private law firm, he responded, “Not really.”

Van Hollen was first elected to the attorney general’s office in 2006. He made a splash early in his first term when he eliminated a backlog of evidence awaiting DNA tests at the state crime lab and easily won a second term in 2010.

He said in October he doesn’t believe anyone should be attorney general for life. He hinted during Tuesday’s interview the job was consuming him.

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