Deer harvested in Clinton County confirmed to have chronic wasting disease

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DEWITT TOWNSHIP, MI – As of Thursday, December 10th, 2015, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reports a total of 3,695 deer in Michigan this year have been tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD). Four deer have been confirmed positive for the disease, with the fourth positive just recently found.

During the firearm deer season, a hunter from Dewitt Township (Clinton County) in the Core CWD Area brought a 1 1/2-year-old buck into the DNR’s Rose Lake deer check station. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the deer as CWD positive.

Because the deer was harvested within 10 miles of the Eaton County border, the DNR strongly encourages all hunters within Eaton County to voluntarily stop baiting and feeding, continue hunting and, most importantly, bring harvested deer into a DNR check station.

“Deer hunters in DMU 333 have been a great help by bringing in their deer to be tested. We couldn’t be more thankful or impressed with their dedication to the resource,” said Chad Stewart, DNR deer specialist. “We continue to need their help and are also asking Eaton County hunters to join our efforts. In addition, we have begun conversations with DeWitt Township, and they, too, are becoming great partners in this fight against CWD.”

There will be no mandatory regulation changes from now through the end of the deer season, as the DNR conducts CWD surveillance and decides what additional steps might be needed for the 2016 season.

CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. 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, or from environments contaminated with these fluids or the carcass of a diseased animal.

Some chronically CWD-infected animals will display abnormal behaviors, progressive weight loss and physical debilitation; however, deer can be infected without showing internal or external symptoms for many years. There is no cure; once a deer is infected with CWD, it will die.

To date, there is no evidence that chronic wasting disease presents any risk to non-cervids, including 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.

The DNR provides weekly CWD updates at mi.gov/cwd. Announcements of additional CWD-positive deer also will be posted online.