DNR officials suspect CWD deer in UP; none yet found

HOUGHTON — In 2002, the DNR and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development crafted a response plan for chronic wasting disease (CWD), which listed steps to be taken once CWD-infected deer is discovered.

Provisions of plan, updated in 2012, include:

•Completing a population survey in the area where a CWD-infected deer is found to estimate deer presence, density and distribution.

•Establishing a 10-mile-diameter CWD core area around the location of the infected deer.

•Creating a CWD management zone from the counties that intersect the rim of the core area circle.

•Implementing a deer and elk feeding and baiting ban throughout the core area and the management zone.

•Prohibiting the movement of privately owned and free-ranging carcasses and their parts from themanagement zone.

•Intensifying surveillance efforts management zone, with mandatory deer checks and CWD testing of all deer harvested in the management zone.

Under the plan, similar provisions would be put in place should a CWD-infected deer be found within 10 miles of the Michigan-Wisconsin border.

In Wisconsin, CWD was first discovered in wild deer in 2002, with the disease already likely widespread there at that time. Today, there are more than 40 counties affected in Wisconsin – with feeding and baiting bans in place.

The closest positive wild deer to the U.P. has been found in Portage County, about 175 miles from Michigan. Oconto and Oneida counties, each roughly 35 miles from the U.P., have deer tested positive for CWD in captive deer facilities.

So far, CWD has not been found in the U.P.

“It may already be here, but hasn’t been detected yet,” said Terry Minzey, DNR Upper Peninsula wildlife supervisor. “However, we have found nothing in the numerous road-killed, crop damage kill-permitted deer and others harvested by hunters we’ve tested at the disease lab from the region.”

Since May 2015, CWD has been confirmed in nine free-ranging deer in the Lower Peninsula from within a 17-township core area, covering portions of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton and Shiawassee counties.

So far, more than 7,800 deer have been tested for CWD from the core area, 2,600 from the associated five-county management zone and 1,917 from the remainder of the state, including 619 from the U.P.