Our Director was invited to attend a two day symposium at Lansing regarding this Disease. Speakers from around the USA and even from Norway shared about the status of their region and what they have done in response to this disease. Here is what he learned from the symposium:
CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, moose, and elk. It is caused by the transmission of infectious, self-multiplying proteins (prions) contained in saliva and other body fluids of infected animals. Susceptible animals can acquire CWD by direct exposure to these fluids, from environments contaminated by these fluids, or the carcass of a diseased animal. Some CWD animals will display abnormal behaviors, progressive weight loss and physical debilitation; however, deer can be infected for several years without showing symptoms. There is no cure, once a deer is infected with CWD, it will die.
To date, there is no known evidence that CWD presents any risk to non-cervids, including humans through contact with an infected animal or from handling venison. However, as a precaution, the US Centers for Disease control and the World Health association recommend that infected animals not be consumed as food.
The Federal Lab has just confirmed that a free ranging deer harvested just North of Greenville in the youth hunt, had CWD. The DNW had already established two Core areas DMUs 333 and 359. There are specific regulations for hunting in those areas. Since the first one was discovered in a captive facility in 2006, 11 others have tested positive in Michigan (Captive and free ranging).
- 2006 one in a captive facility in Kent County
- 2015 one free ranging in Igham County. Since then, eight additional in that area
- 2017 two in a captive facility in Mecosta County
- 2017 one free ranging in Montcalm County
In addition to these areas, the DNR Director has issued an interim order the creates a nine township core area that includes Douglass, Eureka, Fairplain, Mable Valley, Montcalm, Pine, and Sidney townships in Montcalm County and Oakfield and Spencer townships in Kent County. There are special regulations immediately in effect in those areas.
In addition to mandatory requiring testing of all deer harvested in those core areas, the DNR is ENCOURAGING testing of all deer harvested in Michigan. There is also a feeding and baiting ban effective Jan. 2, 2018 in Montcalm and Kent County, and they are encouraging hunters not to bait of feed in these areas immediately.
We encourage your patience and participation in efforts to keep this disease out of areas and to hinder it from spreading where it has already been found. Make sure you deposit your carcasses in landfills, Follow the rules if you hunt in other states. Cooperate with increase testing. There will be attempts to reduce the density of overpopulated areas where the disease has been found, targeted removal of social/doe groups, allowing harvest of 1 ½ year old bucks (these travel the most and can spread the disease to a wider area), until a vaccine or other cure can be found.