More deer suspected positive for chronic wasting disease

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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Thirty deer from Clinton, Ingham, Kent and Montcalm counties have been identified either as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) positive or CWD suspect since 2015.

Since the end of firearm deer season, the Michigan DNR has been able to identify 30 free-ranging, white-tailed deer that are confirmed with CWD. Either they have it are are suspected to have it by the DNR.

Several thousand additional samples are still be tested by Michigan State so these numbers could change.

The first deer with CWD was found in May 2015. Since then, the DNR has tested approximately 23,000 deer. Of those tested, 30 cases of CWD have been suspected or confirmed in deer from Clinton, Ingham, Kent and Montcalm counties.

“CWD suspect” means that the deer tested positive on an initial screening test, but has not yet been confirmed through additional testing. It is very rare that a CWD suspect will not be confirmed as a CWD-positive animal, but it is possible.

From 2015 to 2016, a total of four deer (in DeWitt, Eagle and Watertown townships) in Clinton County tested positive. So far in 2017, a single CWD suspect has been identified in Westphalia Township, also in Clinton County. In Ingham County, five deer from Meridian Township tested positive from 2015 to 2016; since then, no deer from Ingham County have tested positive for CWD.

In Montcalm County, a total of 17 deer from the following townships are suspected or confirmed to be positive for CWD: Cato, Douglass, Fairplain, Maple Valley, Montcalm, Pine, Reynolds, Sidney and Winfield. In Kent County, three CWD-positive deer were found in Nelson and Spencer townships. This is the first year any CWD-suspect free-ranging deer were found in Montcalm or Kent counties.

“The fact that we have likely found so many additional CWD-positive deer is a major concern for Michigan’s deer population,” said Chad Stewart, DNR deer specialist. “However, Michigan has a comprehensive CWD response and surveillance plan to guide our actions, and we will continue working with hunters and taking proactive measures to contain this disease.”

To date, the DNR has:
• Established a CWD Core and Management Zone where CWD has been detected.
• Implemented deer feeding and baiting bans throughout entire CWD Core and Management Zones.
• Intensified surveillance of free-ranging deer in CWD Management Zones, including mandatory check and testing of all hunter-harvested deer within Core CWD Areas.
• Opened and staffed additional deer check stations to better accommodate hunters within Core CWD Areas.

The DNR encourages hunters throughout the state to continue to hunt responsibly and submit their deer for CWD surveillance and testing.

“Hunters are our best ally in understanding the magnitude of chronic wasting disease in Michigan,” said Stewart. “It’s vital for hunters throughout the state to continue to bring in their deer for testing, and to talk to one another about the seriousness of the situation and the actions they can take right now to help limit the spread of CWD.”