Thursday, February 2nd, 2023
Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

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Three deer found to be TB-positive

Bill Parker Editor

East Lansing, Mich. — With the lion’s share of testing complete
on animals from the 2005 hunting seasons, no chronic wasting
disease has been found in free-ranging white-tailed deer or elk in
Michigan, and just three cases of bovine TB have been identified.
All three positive TB tests came from white-tailed deer.

“We’re still testing, so our prevalence figures (for TB) won’t
be available until March,” DNR veterinarian Dr. Steve Schmitt told
Michigan Outdoor News. “Once we have a suspect case it can take up
to eight weeks to get the final results of testing.”

As of Dec. 11, Schmitt said the state had tested 7,209
white-tailed deer for the presence of bovine TB. They had found 28
“suspect” cases, and so far three of those have returned positive
results for TB. All three deer came from the TB Zone. Schmitt said
he expects to test a few hundred more animals.

“We have to look at each individual deer and the (suspect cases)
go through a number of tests,” Schmitt said, to determine if TB
exists.

Last year, the state tested 15,129 deer and found 28 cases of
TB. Why such a drop this year in the number of deer tested?

“We pulled back on the number of tests we conducted on deer from
the Upper Peninsula and the southern Lower Peninsula,” Schmitt
said. “We have tested 145,000 deer (since 1995) in Michigan. We
know where we have TB. It’s not cost-effective to continue to test
so many animals. We’re still testing in every county, we just
pulled back a little.”

Schmitt said hunters across the state are aware of TB and that
most are ready to assist in the fight against the disease. Hunters
are familiar with the fact that TB causes small nodules to form in
the chest cavity of infected deer.

“Hunters are aware of TB now. If they see something unusual in
the chest cavity, most hunters will call the DNR, and that’s what
we want them to do,” he said.

On the CWD front, Schmitt said the state was still testing
animals. Of the 1,681 whitetails, 111 elk, and seven moose tested
as of mid-January, all were negative for the deadly brain
disease.

“We tested more last year and the year before,” Schmitt said.
“We’ve shifted away from focusing on hunter-harvested animals and
are redirecting to targeted surveillance – animals acting
abnormally or that are excessively thin.”

Schmitt said 74 deer, four elk, and three moose that were
“acting abnormally” have been tested and all were negative for
CWD.

Since 1998 the DNR has tested 18,951 deer, 427 elk, and 27 moose
for the presence of CWD, and to date, none have been found
positive.

“We have tested more animals than any other state in the country
that doesn’t have CWD,” Schmitt said. “We can safely say we do not
have a wide outbreak of CWD in Michigan like they do in Colorado,
Wyoming, and Wisconsin.”

Early last fall, residents in Kent County spotted several deer
that appeared thin and were acting abnormally. Test results
eventually showed that none were infected with CWD. However, eight
deer in the area where Kent, Montcalm, and Ionia counties meet,
were infected with eastern equine encephalitis. EEE is a virus much
like West Nile virus and is transmitted through the bite of a
mosquito. As predicted by biologists, EEE disappeared in the deer
herd when frost arrived and killed the mosquitoes.

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