By Glen Wunderlich
With only a few days remaining in Michigan’s firearms deer season, the unwelcome news of another deer infected with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) appears to have been discovered. A 1.5-year-old buck taken Wednesday, Nov. 16, in Clinton County’s Eagle Township is likely the ninth free-ranging deer in Michigan to test positive for CWD. Preliminary tests by our DNR must still be confirmed pending tests by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, to make the results conclusive. The good news is that the suspect deer was taken within the core zone, although it expands the zone somewhat.
In speaking with wildlife biologist, Chad Fedewa, no expansion of the CWD management area will be considered until deer hunting seasons end. “This latest suspect deer reinforces how critical hunters are in battling this disease,” said Chad Fedewa, DNR wildlife biologist. “We are counting on hunters to bring their deer in for testing so we have a better understanding about disease distribution. If this hunter had not followed the law, we would have no idea that the disease has traveled farther west.”
It remains critical that hunters have deer checked near this area referred to as Deer Management Unit (DMU) 333.
The DNR has tested nearly 9,000 deer since the first free-ranging CWD-positive deer was found in May 2015; to date, eight cases of CWD have been confirmed.
With the discovery of this new suspect positive animal, hunters harvesting deer in three additional townships are strongly encouraged to have their deer checked. These townships are Portland and Danby townships in Ionia County and Roxand Township in Eaton County.
Since deer can be infected with the disease for many years without displaying symptoms, it’s best to have them checked. Typically, hunters will not see any abnormal behavior, nor will they see anything askew in the process of field dressing.
In related news, the Rose Lake deer check station reports as of Wednesday, November 23 that over 900 deer have been checked. Although the number is down from about 1,000 deer checked at this time last year, the addition of two check stations in the area may account for the lower amount. However, the promising trend of bigger bodied animals and bigger racks continues.
At the Traverse City check station, wildlife biologist, Steve Griffith, reports that the count of deer checked is down some 26 percent compared to last year at this time, but attributes the decline somewhat to unfavorable weather conditions during the early portion of the season. On a positive note, antler point restrictions in this 5-county zone, whereby bucks must have at least 3 antler points on a side (4 points on a side for second deer taken on restricted tags), are having the desired effect. Generally, he states that body sizes are especially good, including that of fawns.
In spite of some dreaded news, we have that silver lining for which to be thankful.