The Michigan Department of Natural Resources suspects that a fourth free-ranging white-tailed deer may have Chronic Wasting Disease in Michigan. The news comes just days before the start of the state’s annual firearm deer season.

(Stock photo from MUCC – not the actual CWD deer)

The deer, a year and a half old buck, was shot by a bowhunter near DeWitt and detected when the hunter brought the deer into a DNR check station. This is the first deer to test positive for the degenerative and always-fatal disease outside of Meridian Township. The first three deer were all genetically related and found within one mile of each other. The deer was sent to a research facility in Ames, Iowa, for confirmation of the positive CWD test, which could take weeks.

“This makes it more important than ever to keep hunting in the area, check your deer and follow the CWD zone rules,” said Dan Eichinger, Executive Director for Michigan United Conservation Clubs. “It’s up to us as hunters to help the DNR get as many samples as it needs for testing so that we know just how far CWD has spread.”

With the firearm deer season starting Sunday, hunters are reminded that they are required to check their harvested deer within a nine-township Core CWD Area consisting of Alaiedon, Delhi, Lansing, Meridian, Wheatfield and Williamstown townships in Ingham County; Bath and DeWitt townships in Clinton County; and Woodhull Township in Shiawassee County. The DNR strongly encourages hunters in a broader CWD Management Zone – consisting of Clinton, Ingham and Shiawassee counties – to check their deer and have them tested for CWD as well.

“The firearm deer season is our single best opportunity to collect sufficient samples to understand the extent of this invariably fatal disease,” said Chad Stewart, DNR deer specialist, in a statement.

Because the suspect positive 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.

“What we want to avoid here in Michigan is the situation that exists when CWD goes unchecked. There are areas of Wisconsin where almost half of the deer have CWD and can’t be eaten,” said Drew YoungeDyke, Chief Information Officer for MUCC. “That’s tragic. We don’t want that situation here in Michigan, but we’ll have it if we don’t stay vigilant.”

Founded in 1937, Michigan United Conservation Clubs is the largest conservation organization in Michigan. Its mission is to unite citizens to conserve, protect and enhance Michigan’s natural resources and outdoor heritage.

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