With firearm deer season complete, the Department of Natural Resources has identified 30 free-ranging white-tailed deer as confirmed or suspected to have chronic wasting disease.
Several thousand additional samples await testing by Michigan State University, so numbers for this deer season could still change.
Since May 2015 when the first CWD deer was found, the DNR has tested approximately 23,000 deer. Of those tested, 30 cases of CWD have been suspected or confirmed in deer from Clinton, Ingham, Kent and Montcalm counties.
“CWD suspect” means that the deer tested positive on an initial screening test, but has not yet been confirmed through additional testing. It is very rare that a CWD suspect will not be confirmed as a CWD-positive animal, but it is possible.
From 2015 to 2016, a four deer) in Clinton County tested positive. So far in 2017, a single CWD suspect has been identified in Westphalia Township, also in Clinton County. In Ingham County, five deer from Meridian Township tested positive from 2015 to 2016; since then, no deer from Ingham County have tested positive for CWD.
In Montcalm County, a total of 17 deer are suspected or confirmed to be positive for CWD from Cato, Douglass, Fairplain, Maple Valley, Montcalm, Pine, Reynolds, Sidney and Winfield townships. In Kent County, three CWD-positive deer were found in Nelson and Spencer townships. This is the first year any CWD-suspect free-ranging deer were found in Montcalm or Kent counties.
“The fact that we have likely found so many additional CWD-positive deer is a major concern for Michigan’s deer population,” said Chad Stewart, deer specialist. “However, Michigan has a comprehensive CWD response and surveillance plan, and we will continue working with hunters and taking proactive measures to contain this disease.”
Hunters are encouraged to continue to hunt responsibly and submit their deer for CWD surveillance and testing.
“Hunters are our best ally in understanding the magnitude of chronic wasting disease in Michigan,” Stewart said.
“It’s vital for hunters throughout the state to continue to bring in their deer for testing, and to talk to one another about the seriousness of the situation and the actions they can take right now to help limit the spread of CWD.”
The DNR strongly recommends hunters who harvest deer in Clinton, Ingham, Kent and Montcalm counties have their deer tested by bringing them to a deer check station. Locate one here.
Hunters who have submitted their deer heads for CWD testing should process their deer as needed, but wait for test results before consumption. To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in humans.
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.