Revised Michigan CWD Plan Approved
After hunters and hunting organizations around the state requested it throughout the “great bait debate” last year, the Michigan DNR has now updated the 2002 Michigan Surveillance and Response plan for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) for Free-ranging and Privately-owned/Captive Cervids (CWD plan). A large amount of published research and case studies have become available in the decade that passed since the first plan was put in place. These documents describe CWD dynamics and management, including responses to agency attempts to manage the disease by policymakers and the public.
The new 2012 CWD Plan was recently approved by both the DNR and Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Directors.
CWD is transmitted between cervids by direct contact with infectious saliva, respiratory aerosols, urine, and feces, and indirectly by environmental materials (e.g. soil, food items, etc.) contaminated with those body fluids. Infected animals are infectious for other animals before they appear sick. lnfected animals inevitably succumb, although the amount of time that takes to happen can vary from months to years.
Management practices that increase biological carrying capacity or artificial aggregation of deer (such as baiting) may cause CWD to persist and spread, just as they do with other diseases such as bovine tuberculosis (TB). Once established, CWD outbreaks (and the substantial costs of their management) can be expected to last for decades.
The 2002 version of the CWD Plan states that if CWD was documented in Michigan or within 50 miles of the border, a ban on all feeding and baiting of cervids would be implemented within the peninsula containing CWD or adjacent to the adjoining state or province with CWD. You might recall the recent 2008 positive deer in a captive cervid facility that shut down baiting and feeding over the last three years throughout the Lower Peninsula.
The new plan revises this response plan so that if CWD is identified in a deer within the boundaries of Michigan or within 10 miles of the Michigan border, the Department recommends initiating the response plan which would establish a CWD Management Zone based on the specifics of the case. Baiting and feeding would be banned in the CWD Management Zone, which likely would at least include the entire county(ies) that might touch that 10 mile radius around the positive deer. This is now similar to the approach taken in the TB Management Zone in Northeast Michigan. The DNR Director would have the ability to reduce or expand this based on the biological and case-specific data available, which might take into account local deer movement patterns or captive cervid transport records.
The Natural Resources Commission is slated to approve an Order on August 9, 2012 that would update the deer baiting and feeding regulations to be consistent with the revised CWD Plan.