DNR acts to implement CWD surveillance and response plan Immediate ban of all baiting for deer in Lower Peninsula!
In the wake of Monday’s announcement that Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been confirmed in a three-year old privately-owned white-tailed deer in Kent County, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is acting immediately to implement provisions of the state’s Surveillance and Response Plan for CWD.
Among the provisions is an immediate ban on all baiting and feeding of deer and elk in the Lower Peninsula. DNR conservation officers will step up surveillance and enforcement efforts on baiting. Baiting and feeding unnaturally congregate deer into close contact, thus increasing the transmission of contagious diseases such as CWD and bovine tuberculosis.
Bait and feed sites increase the likelihood that those areas will become contaminated with the feces of infected animals, making them a source of CWD infection for years to come.
Additionally, the provisions include a mandatory deer check for hunters who take a deer within Tyrone, Solon, Nelson, Sparta, Algoma, Courtland, Alpine, Plainfield, and Cannon townships, which contain the surveillance area or “hot zone.” All hunters who take a deer during any deer hunting season this fall within the “hot zone” will be required to visit a DNR deer check station so that their deer can be tested for CWD.
The DNR currently is seeking locations for additional deer check stations in the area to make it more convenient for hunters. To prevent unintentional spread of CWD, the only parts of deer harvested in the surveillance zone that will be allowed to be transported out will be boned meat, capes, and antlers cleaned of all soft tissues.
In addition, all transport of live wild deer, elk and moose will be prohibited statewide, including transport for rehabilitation purposes. Currently, there is no live animal test for CWD, and infected animals often show no signs of illness for years in spite of being infectious for other animals. Movement for rehabilitation purposes may speed geographic spread of the disease.
The DNR will act immediately to test an additional 300 deer within the “hot zone” in Kent County. The DNR will be cooperating with local officials to collect fresh road-killed deer, and will be urging deer hunters participating in the early antlerless season on private land in September to comply with the mandatory deer check.
Landowners in Kent County “hot zone” who would like to obtain disease control permits to cull deer from their property and assist with the collection of deer for testing should contact the DNR’s Wildlife Disease Lab at 517-336-5030. Permits will be available immediately upon request. Landowners who do not want to cull deer, but want to participate in the collection of deer for testing, can obtain assistance from the DNR in culling deer.
DNR officials reminded citizens that, to date, there is no evidence that CWD poses a risk to humans, nor has there been verified evidence that the disease can be transmitted to humans.
CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects deer, elk and moose. Most cases of the disease have been in western states, but in the past several years, it has spread to Midwestern and eastern states. Infected animals display abnormal behaviors, loss of bodily functions and a progressive weight loss. Current evidence suggests that the disease is transmitted through infectious, self-multiplying proteins (prions).
Prions are normal cell proteins whose shape has been transformed, causing CWD. The disease is transmitted by exposure to saliva of infected animals. Susceptible animals can also acquire CWD by eating feces from an infected animal, or soil contaminated by them. Once contaminated, soil can remain a source of infection for many years, making CWD a particularly difficult disease to manage.
More information about CWD is available on the State of Michigan’s Emerging Diseases Web site at www.michigan.gov/chronicwastingdisease.