Chronic wasting disease could be a serious problem for U.P. deer

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MARQUETTE — Once a year the eastern and western Upper Peninsula Citizen’s Advisory Councils meet to discuss their DNR reports from the previous year. Today marked the 10th anniversary of these joint meetings. And even after 10 years, there was still a lot to discuss.

The biggest topic of discussion tonight: chronic wasting disease in deer.

Vicki Pontz, chair of the Natural Resource Commission explained, “Chronic wasting disease is a protein that’s kind of gone awry and causes deer to lose neurological function and eventually die.”

Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, is always fatal to animals and there is a concern that it could greatly impact Michigan’s deer population and the hunting economy. As of February of this year, 30,000 deer have been tested for CWD and 56 were positive in Michigan. No deer in the Upper Peninsula have tested positive at this time but through contact with infected deer, the risk is not far away.”

Pontz continued, “We have not yet found a positive deer for CWD in the Upper Peninsula. However, Wisconsin has within 40 miles of the border of the Upper Peninsula. So we’re very concerned of the potential of CWD getting to, if it’s not already, in the U.P.”

Phil Wirtanen, Chairman of the Western U.P. Citizen’s Advisory Council says, “The whole emphasis is on prevention, of having U.P. CWD presence.”

The Michigan DNR is holding public engagement meetings throughout Michigan to discuss Chronic Wasting Disease and what the communities can be doing to help.

To learn more about CWD or to find a public engagement meeting near you, click here.

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