Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

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Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

The controversial topic I decided to choose was Michigan’s plans on preventing the spread of CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) in the white-tailed deer and elk herds. Many areas throughout the United States have broken out with this deadly disease, like Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Montana, and even the province of Saskatchewan. The problem with CWD originated from Saskatchewan, where captive deer became infected with this disease that affects the nervous system. This disease is very similar to that of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or more commonly referred to as “Mad Cow Disease”. The disease was spread through international transportation of deer from one farm to the next. CWD spreads very fast and rapidly. It attacks the nervous system making the deer lose an excessive amount of weight, hair, and all vision becomes blurry leaving the deer disoriented. As of right now, Michigan has tested negative in all counties for the Upper and Lower Peninsula. So this leads to many controversial issues about baiting deer for hunting season. Sense, saliva can spread the disease, the DNR is trying to stop hunters from baiting deer to prevent this from spreading. Some hunters rely on hunting over bait bile’s, to attract deer to their hunting areas. Michigan has limitations on the amount of bait you can spread at one time. We are only allowed to spread a five-gallon bucket over a 6-foot area. But the DNR has already made plans to make baiting illegal when any state such as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, or the Canadian province of Ontario, have been infected with CWD [1]. All baiting of deer will be illegal and there will be no more baiting allowed ever. So I feel that the state is doing the right thing to prevent CWD from spreading into the state.

Another concern the DNR has is people traveling to other states to hunt and bringing back the animal. The DNR wants to limit the amount of carcasses brought into the state. Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials reminded Michigan hunters headed out-of-state to hunt deer and elk this fall to take common-sense precautions to avoid accidentally bringing Chronic Wasting Disease back to Michigan [2]. The deer can have the disease and also carry it in the feces, urine, saliva, brain, spinal cord, and the meat. So once you have killed the animal, you should take it to a sanitary landfill, or buried deep where no animal can get to it and become infected.

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You should never throw the carcass in a field or woods. Hunters should cooperate with CWD testing programs in the area where they hunt. If state or provincial wildlife officials ask to test your deer or elk, let them. The test results will provide wildlife biologists and veterinarians with important information on the presence and distribution of the disease. The results will also help hunters make decisions about venison consumption and disposal of the carcass. [3] So the best way to limit this from happening is to clean your animal there at the camp and dispose of the carcass at that site.

The computer has helped with the process of tracking deer and the areas they have entered with electronic collars that were placed on them. They can tell when the deer has died and where it has gone too. The computer has helped the DNR and Natural Resources fields for a long time. They are able to document information and broadcast important dates and issues that the public is allowed to view through the Internet, on upcoming dates, hunts, records of previous years kill rates, and important meeting.

The main concern about CWD is, the captive deer being transported from state to state. Many deer could have the disease and spread it to the entire herd. That is why Michigan has banned any imports or exportation of captive elk and deer, to and from other states. Colorado on the other hand has 5% of the wild deer and 1% of the elk herd is infected. In order for the deer or elk to get the disease, they need to be a certain age. A mother that is pregnant with a fawn, the fawn cannot contract the disease even if the mother has it. They need to be at the age of 12 to 18 months or full maturity. Michigan now tests all captive deer herds in the state every 6 months. All results are recorded and monitored. Every animal has to be tested and monitored. If the animal dies for no reason the state DNR has to be contacted and they have to run tests on it.

So for a hunter, they want to know if it is safe to eat venison. The DNR strongly suggests that anyone in a “Hot Area” which is an area or county that has found a deer that tested positive. They suggest that every hunter who kills a deer in or around that area have their deer taken to a laboratory. What you do is you take the animal to a check point that the DNR have placed all around the state, the DNR take the head of the deer and you are left with the rest to take to a processing plant. You are advised to not eat the venison until you have the results back. This process may take up to a few weeks. The hunters here in Michigan do not need to take that extra step just yet. Scientists are still not sure if the infected venison can harm or kill anyone who eats it. But it would be best if the deer you have killed is infected, to get rid of the meat by incinerating it.

I do believe that someday the state of Michigan will soon see problems with this disease and hunting will be destroyed, but with the help of the computer and the Internet, hunters and other people will continually be updated on specific and important issues revolving around CWD and if and when it enters Michigan.

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