DNR: Additional deer suspected to be positive for CWD identified throughout firearms season

(Michigan DNR)

With the firearms deer season complete, the Michigan DNR says it now has identified a total of 30 free-ranging white-tailed deer that are confirmed or suspected to have chronic wasting disease, the DNR said in a news release Wednesday, Dec. 6.

Several thousand additional samples are awaiting testing by Michigan State University, so numbers for this deer season could still change.

Since May 2015 when the first CWD deer was found, the DNR has tested approximately 23,000 deer. Of those tested, 30 cases of CWD have been suspected or confirmed in deer from Clinton, Ingham, Kent and Montcalm counties. “CWD suspect” means that the deer tested positive on an initial screening test, but has not yet been confirmed through additional testing. It is very rare that a CWD suspect will not be confirmed as a CWD-positive animal, but it is possible.

From 2015 to 2016, a total of four deer (in DeWitt, Eagle and Watertown townships) in Clinton County tested positive. So far in 2017, a single CWD suspect has been identified in Westphalia Township, also in Clinton County. In Ingham County, five deer from Meridian Township tested positive from 2015 to 2016; since then, no deer from Ingham County have tested positive for CWD.

In Montcalm County, a total of 17 deer from the following townships are suspected or confirmed to be positive for CWD: Cato, Douglass, Fairplain, Maple Valley, Montcalm, Pine, Reynolds, Sidney and Winfield. In Kent County, three CWD-positive deer were found in Nelson and Spencer townships. This is the first year any CWD-suspect free-ranging deer were found in Montcalm or Kent counties.

“The fact that we have likely found so many additional CWD-positive deer is a major concern for Michigan’s deer population,” said Chad Stewart, DNR deer specialist. “However, Michigan has a comprehensive CWD response and surveillance plan to guide our actions, and we will continue working with hunters and taking proactive measures to contain this disease.”

High rates of CWD in a deer population could significantly affect the number of deer, and also could significantly depress the potential for older age classes, especially the more mature bucks.

Michigan welcomes approximately 600,000 deer hunters each year who, over the past decade, harvest an average of 340,000 deer. Overall, hunting generates more than $2.3 billion a year for Michigan’s economy, with approximately $1.9 billion of that stemming from deer hunting.

“There’s no question that a healthy deer herd across the state is critical to Michigan’s economy and to a thriving hunting tradition that spans generations of friends and family,” Stewart said.

The DNR strongly recommends that hunters who harvest deer in Clinton, Ingham, Kent and Montcalm counties have their deer tested by bringing them to a deer check station.

Hunters who have submitted their deer heads for CWD testing should process their deer as needed, but wait for test results before consumption.

To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in humans. 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.

To learn more about CWD, and the current known distribution of CWD in Michigan, visit michigan.gov/cwd. Results are updated weekly.

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