The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, MDNR, is putting up billboards near the Wisconsin border in the Upper Peninsula and handing out bumper stickers.
Why? As a reminder to hunters that bringing deer into Michigan from states with deer infected with chronic wasting disease, CWD, is restricted.
“This is an insidious disease and it’s going to take partnership by all people concerned—hunters, DNR and other folks—to make sure that not only do we not get it, but if we ever do get it, that we don’t spread this disease across the peninsula,” Terry Minzey, MDNR regional wildlife supervisor said in a press release. “It can have long-term ramifications on our deer herd. While it may not impact us, it will certainly have impacts on our grandchildren.”
At issue is the fact that more than half of Wisconsin’s 72 counties are now affected by CWD—and this year, the state ceased in-person registration of deer at locations where Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) staff took samples for CWD checks.
The WDNR has just half the budget it had last year for CWD testing. The WDNR says it only has resources enough to test 4,000 deer this year, compared to 7,500 last year.
CWD was first discovered in Wisconsin near Mount Horeb in 2002. Public forums conducted across the state have changed the WDNR’s tactics from aggressive in the beginning to monitoring to now only doing surveillance, according to the department.
Wisconsin has a new electronic carcass registration system, along with 64 locations where Wisconsin hunters can bring tissue samples. However, only two tissue sample locations will be available in southern Wisconsin, where CWD has been found the most.
Seven self-service kiosks are available, along with 200 businesses making phones and computers available for hunter to use.
The WDNR says that, at first, it sought to end and control spread of the disease through extended hunting seasons and using sharpshooters.
“Public sentiment quickly waned when we had sharpshooting (in the winter of 2006-2007),” said Tami Ryan, the agency’s wildlife health section chief. “In the absence of having any management strategies or tools to deal with it, it is basically an endemic area. We know it’s there and it’s not likely to go away. That’s what endemic means: It’s here to stay.”
What are your thoughts on the current CWD epidemic? Has your state taken measures to prevent their deer population from becoming infected?