The Battle with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Continues in Michigan

By Glen Wunderlich

Chronic Wasting Disease
Chronic Wasting Disease
Glen Wunderlich
Glen Wunderlich

United States -( The ever-evolving status of Michigan’s deer herd is showing some very positive results, based on information provided by our DNR.

At the same time, concern over the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has materialized into a greater threat to our cherished hunting tradition. While conscientious hunters are the first line of defense against this dreaded disease, ignorant hunters can also be the worst enemy of sportsmen and women, if they fail to heed the warnings and laws meant to combat this curse.

Overall, biologists have indicated approximately a 17 percent increase in deer kill in the Lower Peninsula, so far this year compared to last year. Although exceptionally mild weather has meant that deer are not as active in search of food as they would be in severe weather conditions, it also has encouraged hunters to spend more time afield. As much as we enjoy seeing more deer, the fact of the matter is that we have less and less habitat, as humans continue to build houses, shopping malls, and generally inhabit more available land; simply stated, something has to give.

No doubt the lowered cost of antlerless deer licenses in the CWD management zone has prompted hunters to take more antlerless deer.

“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.

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 making it the fourth deer found with the disease.

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.

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.

As part of the surveillance effort, Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers in southwest Michigan recently conducted enforcement operations targeting illegal importation of harvested deer into Michigan from states with chronic wasting disease (CWD) in their free-ranging deer herds.

Conservation officers conducted operations near the I-94 corridor of the Michigan/Indiana border, resulting in the seizure of six harvested deer. Five deer were transported into Michigan from Illinois, and one was transported from Wisconsin. Michigan law prohibits importing deer from CWD-positive states and provinces.

Five Michigan residents have been charged with the illegal transportation of deer into the state. They will be arraigned in the 5th District Court in Berrien County. Violation of Michigan’s wildlife importation laws may result in fines of up to $500 and up to 90 days in jail.

As predicted, in the Upper Peninsula, the deer kill is down some 19 percent as a result of mortality from severe winter weather over recent years. DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason has announced that a Wisconsin captive cervid facility within 25 miles of the Upper Peninsula border has tested positive for CWD and emphasizes that it is critical that hunters comply with the ban on importing any live or dead deer from CWD states like Wisconsin.

If ever we are going to contain this disease, we’ve got to listen to the experts. We simply cannot afford to look the other way.

About Glen Wunderlich:

Charter Member Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA). Outdoor writer and columnist for The Argus-Press ( and blog site at  Member National Rifle Association (NRA), Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), member U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), Commemorative Bucks of Michigan (CBM).