The Michigan DNR has confirmed the second case of Chronic Wasting Disease in the state’s free-ranging deer herd.
The Michigan departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) are confirming a second free-ranging deer in Meridian Township has tested positive for chronic wasting disease.
The deer was located within a mile from the first positive case discovered in May, 2015. At this time, genetic tests determining whether the two deer are related are being conducted.
DNR Wildlife Division Chief, Russ Mason, notes that, “Finding this second positive deer is disappointing, however, not unexpected…We will continue with our aggressive surveillance throughout the summer and fall. With the assistance of hunters, we hope to determine the distribution of this disease.”
Currently, over 300 deer have been test in the core region, with two having tested positive for CWD. This core zone consists of Clinton, Ingham and Shiawassee counties. Following the second diagnosis of CWD, the core area has been expanded to include Lansing, Meridian, Williamstown, Delhi, Alaiedon and Wheatfield townships in Ingham County; DeWitt and Bath townships in Clinton County; and Woodhull Township in Shiawassee County.
Nationwide, CWD continues to be an issue that officials are concerned about, as proven with the map below from the USGS. Click for a larger version.
Steve Schmitt, veterinarian-in-charge at the DNR Wildlife Disease Lab, shares that “Michigan has a long tradition of hunter support and conservation ethics. Now, with these CWD findings, that support is needed more than ever…because hunters are often familiar with the deer herd locally, one of the best things they can do to help manage this disease is to continue hunting and bring their deer to check stations this season.”
There is no limit to the antlerless deer license quota within the Core CWD Area. As such, deer licenses, individual or combo, are permitted to harvest antlerless or any antlered deer during firearm and muzzleloading seasons. Plans to establish additional deer-check stations in the Core CWD Area and the CWD Management Zone are underway to facilitate the process for hunters.
Currently, there is no evidence determining that CWD is a risk to non-cervids, including people. This includes risk through contact with an infected animal or through handling venison that has been contaminated.
Even so, precautions by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization suggest neither humans nor domesticated animals should consume potentially infected wildlife.
What is Chronic Wasting Disease?
According to the Michigan’s DNR website, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a contagious neurological disease affecting deer and elk. It causes a characteristic spongy degeneration of the brains of infected animals resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and death.
The infectious agents are considered to be neither bacteria nor virus, but rather are thought to be prions. Prions are considered to be infectious proteins without associated nucleic acids.
What you need to know:
- Feeding and baiting of deer and elk are prohibited in the CWD Management Zone.
- Mandatory checking of deer will be required in the Core CWD Area during hunting seasons
- Restrictions will apply to the movement of carcasses and parts of deer taken in this area
What to look for:
The DNR asks that the public and hunters continue to report deer that are unusually thin and exhibiting unusual behavior, including the following:
- Loss of body condition and changes in behavior
- Affected animals may walk repetitive courses
- May show subtle ataxia and wide based stance
- Subtle head tremors occur in some animals
- May be found near water sources or in riparian areas
- May have periods of somnolence
- May carry their head and ears lowered
- Amounts of feed consumed are reduced, leading to gradual loss of body condition
- Excessive drinking and urination are common in the terminal stages because of specific lesions in the brain
- Excessive salivation and drooling; this may result in wetting of the hairs of the chin and neck.
- Death is inevitable once clinical disease occurs
To report a suspicious-looking deer, call the DNR Wildlife Disease Lab at 517-336-5030 or fill out and submit the DNR online observation report.