Michigan officials recently announced the discovery of a second case of chronic wasting disease in a free-range deer.
The CWD-positive deer, a 2-year-old buck, was found less than a mile from the state’s first CWD-infected deer in Meridian Township (Ingham County) in the south-central part of the state, according to a Michigan Department of Natural Resources press release. Officials are conducting genetic testing to see of the deer are related.
“Finding this second positive deer is disappointing, however not unexpected,” Russ Mason, DNR Wildlife Division chief, said in the release. “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.”
CWD is an always-fatal transmissible spongiform encephalopathy that affects cervids, such as whitetails, elk, moose and mule deer. It has been found in captive and free-ranging cervid herds in 23 states and two Canadian provinces. The disease is caused by prions, an abnormal form of a normal protein, which are shed in the saliva, urine, feces and nasal droppings of deer and can remain infectious in the soil for years.
“This announcement underscores the importance of cooperating with the DNR's response plan," Dan Eichinger, executive director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs,” said in a Michigan Radio article.
In May, Michigan’s DNR confirmed the state’s first-ever CWD-positive deer, a 6-year-old doe from Meridian Township. The agency immediately established a CWD Management Zone encompassing Clinton, Ingham and Shiawassee counties and a Core CWD Area consisting of a Shiawassee County township, two Clinton County townships and six Ingham County townships.
The Core CWD Area has an unlimited antlerless deer license quota, and hunters can use deer licenses or deer license combinations to harvest antlerless or any antlered deer during firearms and muzzleloading seasons, the release said. Baiting and feeding deer are prohibited in the CWD Management Zone, and researchers will check all deer shot in the Core CWD Area. To date, the DNR has tested 304 deer.
The DNR is asking people to report deer that seem unusually thin or exhibit unusual behavior, according to the release. Also, the agency will continue road-kill collection in the core area. Weekly testing updates are available at www.michigan.gov/cwd.
CWD is not considered a threat to humans. However, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that infected animals not be consumed and suggests that hunters “avoid eating deer and elk tissues known to harbor the CWD agent (brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils, lymph nodes) from areas where CWD has been identified.”
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Brian Lovett, Realtree's news blogger, has been an outdoors reporter, writer, magazine editor and book author for 27 years. Spring turkey hunting and autumn waterfowling take up most of his outside time, but he also enjoys fishing, deer hunting and upland-bird hunting. Lovett lives in Oshkosh, Wis., with his wife, Jenny, and their retriever.