Chronic Wasting Disease has made its way to the free-ranging whitetail herd of Michigan.
The Michigan departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) have reported the first case of Chronic Wasting Disease in the state’s free range whitetail herd, confirming positive tests from a deer in Meridian Township (Ingham County) for the fatal neurological disease.
CWD was found in 2008, when a deer from a privately-owned farm in Kent County tested positive.
“This is the first case of chronic wasting disease to be confirmed in a free-ranging Michigan white-tailed deer,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh in the official news release. “While it is a disappointing day for Michigan, the good news is that we are armed with a thoughtfully crafted response plan. We are working with other wildlife experts at the local, regional, state and federal level, using every available resource, to determine the extent of this disease, respond appropriately to limit further transmission, and ultimately eradicate the disease in Michigan if possible.”
The deer with the positive test results was spotted acting abnormally last month near a Meridian Township residence, and the police department was called. The animal was euthanized and tested to the DNR Wildlife Disease Laboratory at the Michigan State University Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health in Lansing, Michigan. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa gave the final confirmation last week.
CWD is transmitted through infectious, self-multiplying proteins in the saliva and other body fluids. It can remain in soil for long periods of time, and there is no known cure.
The Michigan DNR is asking for public help in reporting deer that look abnormally thin, or are exhibiting abnormal behavior, such as sluggishness or allowing humans to approach. Though CWD has yet to be proven as transmittable to humans, extreme caution should be taken when near any wildlife, and you should always enlist the help of experts even when you have the best of intentions.
Hunting, in a roundabout way, can help support the deer herds of Michigan if hunters continue practicing ethical harvests, including getting their deer checked at DNR stations.
You can learn more about the extensive state response plan for a CWD-positive test here.