CWD group provides recommendations

LANSING — At the regular monthly meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission in Lansing, the Chronic Wasting Disease Working Group – a panel challenged by the commission to explore actions that could substantially mitigate or eliminate CWD in Michigan – presented its recommendations to strengthen the fight against this neurological disease that threatens Michigan’s deer population. Those five recommendations include:

– Pursuing the help of an outside marketing agency to develop messaging for Michigan’s vision for CWD surveillance and management.

– Forming a consortium of states and provinces to seek federal, state and private funding to share research on CWD surveillance methods, diagnostic tools, transmission pathways and management practices.

– Working cooperatively with the Agriculture and Rural Development Commission to assess the effectiveness and direction of privately owned cervid facilities, with an emphasis on biosecurity and CWD risk factors.

– Continuing to employ a science-based strategy for CWD management.

– Developing statewide, science-based management plans based on regional prevalence of CWD.

Chronic wasting disease attacks the brain of infected animals, creating small lesions, which result in death. The disease is transmitted through direct animal-to-animal contact, or by contact with saliva, urine, feces, blood or carcass parts of an infected animal, or infected soil.

The disease can spread through the deer herd and, once established, could – over the long term – significantly reduce the number of deer in the region and/or significantly depress numbers of older age class deer.

To date, a total of 57 deer have tested positive for chronic wasting disease in Clinton, Ingham, Ionia, Kent, Mecosta and Montcalm counties.

“While CWD presents a challenge, it also presents opportunity to bring together deer hunting and conservation communities in order to ensure a healthy, sustainable deer resource and the future of deer hunting in Michigan,” said Russ Mason, chief of the DNR Wildlife Division.

Last fall the Natural Resources Commission and the Department of Natural Resources brought together CWD experts from around the country to review the latest in science and management principles on the disease.

Other states have enacted policies that include changes in hunting regulations, restrictions or bans on deer carcasses from other states, baiting and feeding bans to prevent deer-to-deer contact that spreads the disease, bans on urine-based lures that are thought to spread the disease, and bans on live cervid movement from out of state.

Presentations and agenda from the CWD Symposium are available online.