The Michigan departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) have confirmed a second free-ranging deer in Meridian Township (Ingham County) has tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD), a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. This second case is a 2-year-old male found less than a mile from the initial positive female deer, confirmed this past May. Genetic testing is being conducted to see if the two deer are related.
“Finding this second positive deer is disappointing, however, not unexpected,” said DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason. “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.”
To date, 304 deer have been tested in the Core CWD Area. Only two have tested positive for CWD.
Upon the finding of the initial CWD positive deer, the DNR established the CWD Management Zone consisting of Clinton, Ingham and Shiawassee counties.
Additionally, the Core CWD Area consisting of Lansing, Meridian, Williamstown, Delhi, Alaiedon and Wheatfield townships in Ingham County; DeWitt and Bath townships in Clinton County; and Woodhull Township in Shiawassee County, was created. 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 and restrictions will apply to the movement of carcasses and parts of deer taken in this area.
“Michigan has a long tradition of hunter support and conservation ethics. Now, with these CWD findings, that support is needed more than ever,” said Steve Schmitt, veterinarian-in-charge at the DNR Wildlife Disease Lab. “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.”
In the Core CWD Area, there is an unlimited antlerless deer license quota and the deer license or deer combo licenses may be used to harvest antlerless or any antlered deer during firearm and muzzleloading seasons. Additional deer-check stations will be established in the Core CWD Area and the CWD Management Zone to accommodate hunters.
To date, there is no evidence that chronic wasting disease presents any risk to non-cervids, including humans, either through contact with an infected animal or from handling contaminated venison. 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.
The DNR asks that the public and hunters continue to report deer that are unusually thin and exhibiting unusual behavior (for example, acting tame around humans and allowing someone to approach).
To report a suspicious-looking deer, call the DNR Wildlife Disease Lab at 517-336-5030 or fill out and submit the online observation report, found on the DNR website.
DNR staff will continue with road-kill collection in the Core CWD Area. To report road-kills found in the Core CWD Area call the Wildlife Disease Hotline at 517-614-9602. Leave a voicemail with location information and staff will attempt to pick up carcasses on the next open business day.
More information on CWD, including Michigan’s CWD surveillance and response plan and weekly testing updates, are available at www.michigan.gov/cwd.