UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – Chronic Wasting Disease is a disease found in deer, elk, and moose. It attacks their brain, and there is no cure; once an animal is infected, it will die.
After a deer was found in Dickinson County last year with the disease, a bait ban was put in order in portions of Menominee, Delta and Dickinson counties.
“We are amping up our surveillance this year so we are testing more there,” said Brian Roell, Wildlife Biologist, Michigan DNR. “Hopefully we don’t find it again and we don’t have to do any further sanctions as far as feeding and baiting the deer go.”
The disease is spread between animals through bodily fluids. The ban is meant to keep large numbers of deer apart and stop the spread of the disease.
State Senator Ed McBroom says it’s not that simple.
“It needs to be more thought out and more nuanced than to outright banning all baiting and feeding,” said McBroom. “I think that if we are talking about the density of the deer population being a portion of how we transmit the disease, than to diminish the ability to take more deer from that population is kind of counter-productive. And even when you talk to the department, they’ll tell you that they really only see the ban delaying CWD maybe five years.”
McBroom says he’s been speaking with both U.P. and downstate lawmakers to revisit this issue.
“Potentially ask the NRC to sunset this or to reconsider or for the legislature to do that instead,” said McBroom.
If you do want to take precautions with the deer you hunt, you can take the head to the DNR to get tested.
“Particularly if they’re from core zone, or very close to it they should certainly get that animal tested,” said Roell. “And then, it’s up to hunter preference if they’re further away from the zone if they want the animal tested or not.”