DNR asks for public input on Chronic Wasting Disease

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MARQUETTE — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) held the first of five Chronic Wasting Disease public outreach meetings in the Upper Peninsula. 

Chronic Wasting Disease is a severe neurological disease that attacks deer, elk, and moose. CWD is highly contagious and can be spread by both direct and indirect contact. The disease has an 18-month incubation period; this means that for up to 18 months the animal could show no signs of being sick. 

Common signs of an infected deer, if they are showing symptoms, include: emaciation, excessive drooling, loss of control of movements, and showing no fear towards humans.

Chronic Wasting Disease is 100% fatal. Meaning, if an animal if infected with CWD, it will die from the disease. This is greatly affecting deer and elk populations across the country. 

At this time, there are no confirmed cases of CWD in the Upper Peninsula, however, there are confirmed cases in the Lower Peninsula as well as on the Wisconsin/U.P. border. Because deer herds can travel and infect other deer, it is not unlikely that some deer in the U.P. have already been infected or will be infected. 

Because CWD is a neurological disease, the only way to test the animal for it is not have access to the brain. This means only animals that are dead are able to be tested. This makes it difficult to track the spread of CWD.

If you are a hunter and kill a deer or buck, you may wish to have it tested for CWD. While there is no direct link of the disease being passed from animal to humans, because testing so far is so limited nothing is completely ruled out. There is a process for testing the animal that can be found here.

The public engagement meetings are a way for the Michigan DNR and the Natural Resource Commission to here the public’s opinions on how to stop the spread of CWD.

The meetings began downstate and are now being held in the U.P. Here is a list of the other public outreach meetings being held: 

  • Iron Mountain – April 25, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. (central time), Bay College, 2801 North US 2
  • Gaylord – May 1, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Ellison Place, 150 Dale Drive.
  • Newberry – May 2, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Tahquamenon High School Auditorium, 700 Newberry Ave.
  • Houghton – May 3, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Magnuson Hotel, 820 Shelden Ave.

At the meetings, a short presentation is given on Chronic Wasting Disease and then it is opened up to public questions. 

The DNR is asking attendees of the meetings to write down their suggestions and opinions on what should be done to help stop the spread of CWD. 

If you are unable to attend the engagement meetings, you can fill out an online feedback survey. You can find the survey here. Submissions are due by May 4, 2018.

In May, once the engagement meetings are completed and all submissions are recorded, the DNR and NRC will meet to go over public responses and come to a decision on how to deal with CWD. 

For more information on Chronic Wasting Disease and what the DNR is considering, click here.

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