A 1.5-year-old buck taken Wednesday, Nov. 16, in Clinton County’s Eagle Township is likely the ninth free-ranging deer in Michigan to test positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD).
A hunter took the animal within an area where deer check is mandatory and brought the deer to a Department of Natural Resources check station. Preliminary tests conducted by the DNR came back positive for CWD. The animal currently is being tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, to finalize confirmation of the disease. Confirmation will take a couple weeks.
The DNR reminds hunters that bringing harvested deer to a DNR check station is critical to helping the state understand the extent of CWD in Michigan.
“This latest suspect deer reinforces how critical hunters are in battling this disease,” said Chad Fedewa, DNR wildlife biologist. “We are counting on hunters to bring their deer in for testing so we have a better understanding about disease distribution. If this hunter had not followed the law, we would have no idea that the disease has traveled farther west.”
The DNR has tested nearly 9,000 deer since the first free-ranging CWD-positive deer was found in May 2015; thus far, eight cases of CWD have been confirmed. This new suspect, if the disease is confirmed, would bring the total to nine.
The DNR reminds individuals that they must check all deer they harvest in the Core CWD Area, which includes 17 townships. This area, which is referred to as Deer Management Unit (DMU) 333, consists of Lansing, Meridian, Williamstown, Delhi, Alaiedon and Wheatfield townships in Ingham County; DeWitt, Bath, Watertown, Eagle, Westphalia, Riley, Olive and Victor townships in Clinton County; Woodhull Township in Shiawassee County; and Oneida and Delta townships in Eaton County. Hunters harvesting deer in these townships are required to submit deer heads for testing within 72 hours of harvest.
With the discovery of this new suspect positive, hunters harvesting deer in three additional townships are strongly encouraged to have their deer checked. These townships are: Portland and Danby townships in Ionia County and Roxand Township in Eaton County.
“Although we won’t make any regulations changes this late in the year,” said Fedewa, “we can’t emphasize enough how much we need hunters in the new townships to have their deer tested so we can determine if there are more deer in the area with the disease.”
There are five check stations accepting deer for CWD testing within DMU 333. These check stations will be operating seven days a week (excluding major holidays). A complete map of check stations, including locations and hours of operation, is available at www.michigan.gov/cwd.
Deer feeding and baiting is prohibited throughout the Core CWD Area and CWD Management Zone, which includes Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, Ionia and Shiawassee counties.
A fatal neurological disease, CWD affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. It is caused by the transmission of infectious, self-multiplying proteins (prions) contained in saliva and other body fluids of infected animals. Susceptible animals can acquire CWD by direct exposure to these fluids, from environments contaminated with these fluids or the carcass of a diseased animal.
Some chronically CWD-infected animals will display abnormal behaviors, progressive weight loss and physical debilitation; however, deer can be infected for many years without showing internal or external symptoms. There is no cure; once a deer is infected with CWD, it will die.
To date, there is no evidence that CWD presents any risk to non-cervids, including humans, either through contact with an infected animal or from handling venison. However, as a precaution, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend that infected animals not be consumed as food by either humans or domestic animals.
Anyone interested in learning more about how Michigan is managing CWD can view the biweekly CWD updates the DNR provides online at mi.gov/cwd. Announcements of additional CWD-positive deer will be posted online as well.