NRC, DNR create chronic wasting disease panel

LANSING — Recognizing the challenge posed by the presence of chronic wasting disease in Michigan’s white-tailed deer population, the Michigan Natural Resources Commission recently adopted a resolution to engage the scientific community to identify practices that will address the threat of CWD. The resolution was approved at the commission’s April meeting in Lansing.

The purpose of the resolution is to have scientists and experts “advise the NRC, the DNR or other applicable agencies on further steps and actions which could be implemented to substantially mitigate or eliminate CWD in Michigan.”

Chronic wasting disease – first discovered two years ago in free-ranging deer in Michigan – is a contagious neurological disease affecting deer, elk and moose. It causes a characteristic spongy degeneration of the brain of an infected animal, resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and, ultimately, the animal’s death. There is no known connection between CWD and human health.

“The Natural Resources Commission and the Michigan DNR have a long history of working cooperatively to ensure the health and longevity of the state’s wildlife and fisheries resources,” said NRC Chair John Matonich. “Chronic wasting disease is perhaps the biggest challenge facing Michigan’s white-tailed deer herd, and we are committed to fighting it head on, with the best available science.”

Scientists are to be selected by the NRC chair and the directors of the state departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture and Rural Development. Chair and/or co-chairs will be selected by the NRC chair and the DNR director.

The group is charged with delivering recommendations by Dec. 31, 2017. After recommendations are received, the NRC and DNR will develop a public process by which to share and receive input on those recommendations.

“Michigan’s white-tailed deer are a critical part of the state’s hunting culture and tradition, as well as the state and local economies supported by those who annually take part in the tradition,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “Since the first CWD finding in Michigan, the DNR has taken aggressive steps to contain and address this threat to our deer population.”