Hunters help meet CWD testing goal

MARQUETTE — With the assistance of hunters, a minimum goal set for chronic wasting disease deer head testing has been surpassed in two surveillance areas set up in the central Upper Peninsula. So far, no new cases have been discovered in the U.P.

The testing will aid the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in determining the extent of this deadly deer disease in the region.

The DNR will continue to test at no charge any deer head hunters submit for CWD testing. Results are typically available within 14 days.

“Assistance from hunters has been outstanding in helping us reach these goals,” said DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason. “With their actions to submit deer heads for disease testing, we have reached these important minimum surveillance goals.”

A minimum goal of 600 deer heads was set for a core surveillance area laid out around Waucedah Township in Dickinson County, where a 4-year-old doe tested positive for CWD Oct. 18.

A total of 711 deer heads have been submitted and tested from the core area with no additional CWD-positive deer detected. Deer tested include road-killed animals and deer taken under deer damage shooting permits.

Within a wider CWD expanded surveillance area, extending north into Marquette County, a minimum goal of 300 deer heads had been set. As of Dec. 1, 565 deer heads from that area have been submitted and tested with no deer testing positive for the disease.

“In addition to the tremendous support of hunters, the work of personnel at the DNR Wildlife Disease Laboratory to test thousands of deer heads from across the state has been phenomenal,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. “There have been nearly 22,000 deer tested for CWD in Michigan so far this year. In that past week, submissions to the lab have slowed to about 1,000 per day.

“This valuable effort is helping to delineate the geographic extent of this disease and its prevalence within our deer herds.”

There is no cure for chronic wasting disease which is always fatal to infected deer. Though there has been no incidence of humans contracting CWD from eating the meat from infected animals, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not recommend doing so.

Despite the detection of 18 new suspected CWD-positive deer found by the state’s disease laboratory at Michigan State University this month, none of those infected deer have come from the U.P.

The infected doe in Dickinson County was shot on a deer damage shooting permit at an agricultural farm in Waucedah Township in September. The test that discovered the infected deer was part of the DNR’s CWD surveillance efforts over the past three years to test deer from Gogebic, Iron, Dickinson and Menominee counties, which form the border with Wisconsin.

For a listing of deer check stations and 24-hour drop box locations, visit the website For more information on chronic wasting disease, visit