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Newest chronic wasting disease case brings minor changes to hunting season

Conservation officials are asking hunters to help prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, confirmed Wednesday that a 3 1/2-year-old female deer taken during Michigan’s youth deer hunting hunt in September has tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

This makes it the 10th free-ranging deer in the state that has tested positive for CWD. The DNR strongly encourages hunter across Michigan to get their harvested deer tested at local testing stations.

CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects various types of wildlife including: white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. CWD is carried through saliva and other bodily fluids of infected animals.

Some infected animals will display abnormal behaviors, but a deer can be infected for years without showing any symptoms. There is no cure for the disease, once a deer is infected, it will die.

The DNR has been conducting surveillance for chronic wasting disease since May 2015. More than 14,000 deer have been tested and only 10 free-ranging, white-tails tested positive for CWD.

There is no evidence that chronic wasting disease poses any risk to any other animals and/or humans after contact with an infected animal. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control do not recommend eating infected venison.

With Wednesday’s confirmation of chronic wasting disease in the Montcalm County deer, DNR Director Keith Creagh has signed an interim order (effective Oct. 4, 2017, through March 29, 2018) outlining next steps as governed by Michigan’s CWD Response and Surveillance Plan. The order:

Creates a nine-township Core Area that includes Douglass, Eureka, Fairplain, Maple Valley, Montcalm, Pine and Sidney townships in Montcalm County, and Oakfield and Spencer townships in Kent County. Within the Core Area specifically:

Institutes mandatory registration of deer at a check station within 5 miles of the new Core CWD Area, within 72 hours of harvest, starting Nov. 15. (Available stations currently are at Flat River State Game Area and Howard City.)

Removes antler point restrictions for the restricted tag of the combo deer license within the nine-township Core Area.

Allows antlerless deer to be tagged using the deer or deer combo license(s) during the firearm, muzzleloader and late antlerless seasons.

Institutes mandatory submission of the head for testing of a road-killed deer within 72 hours of pick-up.

Allows disease control permits, effective immediately, for landowners with five or more acres within the nine-township Core Area.

Bans the feeding and baiting of deer in Kent and Montcalm counties, effective Jan. 2, 2018, and encourages hunters not to bait and feed in these areas immediately.

Starting Nov. 1, several new deer check stations near the new Core Area will accept deer for CWD testing. Archery hunters are strongly encouraged to have their deer checked at existing check stations during the early archery season.

A complete list of check stations, including locations and hours, as well as weekly CWD updates, are available at michigan.gov/cwd.

As additional deer have tested positive for CWD within Michigan, the DNR has put specific regulations in place. Currently, there are two CWD Core Areas, which are deer management units (DMUs) 333 and 359. To review regulations related to those areas, visit michigan.gov/cwd.

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