The operators of a private cervid facility located in Kent County’s
Algoma Township have been charged with violation of the Michigan
Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)
Quarantine Order issued in August 2008 after a three-year old Kent
County female white-tailed deer tested positive for the disease.
James and Brian Schuiteman, owners of J & B Whitetails, were recently
arraigned in 63-1 District Court in Rockford and charged with violating
Michigan’s Animal Industry Act for movement of an animal in violation
of the quarantine placed on their facility by MDA. This is a felony
charge carrying a penalty of $1,000 to $5,000 in fines and imprisonment
of up to five years. The Schuitemans waived their right to a preliminary
exam in court today.
The charge stems from an incident on Aug. 23, the day after the
quarantine was issued by MDA. At approximately midnight, Department of
Natural Resources Conservation Officers David Rodgers and Michael Mshar
observed two persons enter the quarantined facility with flashlights and
a tranquilizer gun. The officers witnessed the subjects seek out a
specific deer, tranquilize it, and then remove the deer. The deer was
loaded into an enclosed trailer, and towed from the property, where
officers conducted a traffic stop to detain the suspects.
Officers determined a live male white-tailed deer was contained in the
trailer with identification tags removed. Upon questioning the suspects,
the officers learned it was their intent to release the buck into the
wild. Officers returned the animal to the facility where it was
euthanized and immediately transported to the Diagnostic Center for
Population and Animal Health at Michigan State University for testing.
The deer tested negative for CWD.
The DNR’s investigation of J & B Whitetails also resulted in the
review of records at Big Buck Taxidermy, located adjacent to the
enclosure. Investigators determined two free-ranging deer with intact
heads were imported into Michigan illegally and delivered to Big Buck
Taxidermy by customers. The deer were taken from known CWD-positive
areas in Wyoming and South Dakota.
For more information on CWD in Michigan, visit the Michigan Emerging
Diseases Web site at www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases.