Two new counties likely will be added to the list of Michigan counties where chronic wasting disease has been found. CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose.
A 4-year-old hunter-harvested buck in Pine River Township (Gratiot County) and a 2-year-old hunter-harvested buck in Carmel Township (Eaton County) are suspected positive for the disease. The samples were sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, for confirmation, which is expected next week.
Chronic wasting disease currently has been confirmed in Clinton, Dickinson, Ingham, Ionia, Jackson, Kent and Montcalm counties.
As of Saturday, the Department of Natural Resources has tested more than 16,000 deer in 2018, with 20 of those confirmed positive for CWD. There are an additional 18 animals suspected positive from townships in Clinton, Kent and Montcalm counties. Additional animals are being tested daily.
“I continue to be impressed with hunters’ commitment to the health of Michigan’s deer, and want to stress again how much the actions of all hunters matter,” said Chad Stewart, DNR deer and elk specialist. “It is only through hunter assistance that we have found CWD in new areas.
“The DNR sets surveillance goals – shown as a number of deer tested in a particular area – to help us detect the presence of the disease at a certain level,” Stewart said. “It’s critical that we meet these goals to increase our understanding of the distribution of chronic wasting disease in Michigan, so we strongly encourage hunters in these areas to get their deer checked.”
Despite strong participation from hunters throughout the CWD surveillance and management areas, there are several counties – particularly Gratiot, Isabella, Jackson and Kent – where testing is well below the goal.
To continue the fight against CWD, Stewart reminds hunters to keep hunting throughout the December deer seasons, check their deer, dispose of leftover parts in the trash, and, if possible, take additional does in the Lower Peninsula’s CWD areas.
Deer check stations and drop boxes will continue to be open throughout the remaining hunting seasons into early January, while the DNR Wildlife Disease Laboratory and partner Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory will continue processing and testing deer for another six weeks or more as hunting seasons continue. For check station locations and hours, visit michigan.gov/deercheck.
Updated testing results, including the goal per county, are available at michigan.gov/cwd in the Check Stations, Testing and Results section.
To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people. However, as a precaution, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that infected animals not be consumed as food by either humans or domestic animals.