Another West Michigan deer suspected to have chronic wasting disease

MONTCALM COUNTY, MI – A second hunter-harvested deer in Montcalm County is suspected to have chronic wasting disease, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced in a news release on Tuesday, Oct. 24. 

A sample has been sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, for confirmation.

If confirmed positive, the 1.5-year-old buck harvested in Sidney Township will be the 11th free-ranging deer in Michigan found to have CWD. 

“The fact that we already have another positive deer within Montcalm County is of major concern,” DNR state wildlife veterinarian Dr. Kelly Straka said. “We strongly recommend hunters who harvest deer in Montcalm County have their deer tested. Deer with CWD can look perfectly healthy even though they are infected.” 

To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in humans and there is no evidence that chronic wasting disease presents any risk to humans, either through contact with an infected animal or from handling 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.

Chronic wasting disease containment zone expands to Kent County

Chronic wasting disease is a contagious and deadly neurological disease affecting deer, elk and moose. It causes a spongy degeneration of the brain, resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and, ultimately, the animal’s death.

Some deer can be sick for years without showing symptoms. It is transmitted through saliva and other bodily fluids of infected animals. There is no cure for the disease, and once an animal is infected it will eventually die.

Since May 2015 when the first CWD deer was found, the DNR has tested more than 15,000 deer. So far, 10 cases of CWD have been confirmed in free-ranging white-tailed deer from Clinton, Ingham and Montcalm counties.

In Douglass, Eureka, Fairplain, Maple Valley, Montcalm, Pine and Sidney townships in Montcalm County, and Oakfield and Spencer townships in Kent County, the following rules are now in place:

  • Mandatory deer registration at check stations within five miles of the townships within 72 hours of harvest beginning Nov. 15. These include Flat River State Game Area and Howard City.
  • Mandatory submission of deer head for testing of a road-killed deer within 72 hours of pickup. 
  • Removes antler point restrictions for the restricted tag of the combo deer license in the nine townships.
  • Antlerless deer can be tagged using the deer or deer combo licenses during firearm, muzzleloader and late antlerless seasons.
  • Allows disease control permits for landowners of five or more acres within the nine-township area.

Chronic wasting disease discovered in Michigan deer prompts town hall

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will hold a town hall meeting on chronic wasting disease Wednesday, Oct. 25, 6-8 p.m. in the Ash Foundation Building, located within the Montcalm County Fairgrounds at 8784 Peck Road in Greenville, Michigan. 

At the meeting, Straka and DNR deer specialist Chad Stewart will provide information on chronic wasting disease, its effects on deer and deer populations, and DNR actions to date in response to the discovery of the disease.

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development veterinarian Dr. Cheryl Collins will be present to provide information and answer questions related to farmed deer. 

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