Lansing — Despite an already understaffed Law Enforcement Division, the Michigan DNR says it plans to begin an audit of the state’s domestic deer and elk farm operations within the next couple weeks. The effort is in compliance with Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s executive order of April 15, which transferred authority over the state’s estimated 700-plus farmed cervid operations from the Michigan Department of Agriculture to the DNR, said DNR Director Becky Humphries. “We are very supportive of the governor’s order,” she said. “The DNR has a vested interest in keeping the scourge of chronic wasting disease — which could have a devastating effect on two of our most precious natural resources, our wild white-tailed deer and elk — away from our borders.” The audit is scheduled to begin June 15, according to Dave Dominic, the DNR wildlife unit supervisor in charge of overseeing the project. He said deer and elk farm owners are being notified about the audit by mail and will be contacted during the summer by inspection teams to set up visits to the farms. Each inspection team will consist of at least one area wildlife biologist and one CO, Dominic said, with each team expected to cover one to four counties. “How much each team can get done on their own will depend on where they are and how many cervid operations are in that area,” he said. “Some teams might only have three or four operations in their area, while others may have as many as 30.” Approximately 530 hunting preserves and breeding/marketing operations will be inspected during the summer. The teams will be looking for a number of risk factors including bio-security such as fencing, health records, and general record-keeping, without entering the animal enclosures themselves whenever possible. This will reduce the risk of possible disease transmission or of upsetting livestock. Teams will be moved around as needed to expedite the audit process, which the agency hopes to have completed by Sept. 30. “If necessary, we may bring in more people to complete the job. Overtime for the COs, who will work on the audit during their regular hours, would be another possibility,” Dominic noted. Funding for the audit, which is expected to cost approximately $800,000, will come from disease funds appropriated from Michigan’s General Fund and from re-directed DNR Law Enforcement Division monies, said Bill Moritz, the DNR’s acting Wildlife Division chief. About $300,000 of the audit’s cost will be covered by Law Enforcement Division money, with the other $500,000 coming from the fund used to cover the costs of the bovine TB program, he said. To augment the loss of the disease funds, the DNR has asked for an appropriation of $500,000 from the state’s Game and Fish Fund, Moritz said. The decision to begin the audit comes despite a resolution introduced by Rep. Tom Casperson, R.-Escanaba, that if adopted would repeal the governor’s executive order. Also in question is the use of state Game and Fish Fund monies, which are supplemented by federally earmarked Pittman-Robertson funds, for the regulation of domestic livestock.

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