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CWD – infected deer found in Ogemaw County

LUPTON – A deer afflicted with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been harvested in Ogemaw County.

A 4-year-old doe that was reported to be in poor condition – skinny, drooling and showing no fear of people, was taken in Klacking Township.

It is the first CWD-positive wild deer from Ogemaw a finding confirmed by the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Madison, which works with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to identify CWD in Michigan’s wild herd.

CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, elk and moose. To date, the disease also has been detected in the following Michigan counties: Clinton, Dickinson, Eaton, Gratiot, Hillsdale, Ingham, Ionia, Isabella, Jackson, Kent, Midland and Montcalm.

“When we find chronic wasting disease in a brand-new location, where previous intensive surveillance has not yet been done, it becomes extremely important for wildlife disease managers to understand where additional cases might be within that county,” said DNR deer and elk specialist Chad Stewart. “In light of this new detection, we are offering additional opportunities for those interested in getting their deer tested for CWD in Ogemaw County.”

A drop box for CWD testing will be available at the Rifle River Recreation Area headquarters, located at 2550 Rose City Road in Lupton, starting Friday, Nov. 3. The check station typically operated at the DNR field office located at 410 Fairview Road in West Branch will be open Nov. 15-30 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The field office will be closed Nov. 23-24 for the Thanksgiving holiday. Self-service test kits, typically available in other locations where CWD has been identified, will not be available in Ogemaw County due to concerns of bovine tuberculosis disease transmission in the county.

Stewart said that CWD is not common among deer in Michigan, and the hunting community can continue to play a key role in assisting the department in disease-testing efforts.

Since CWD was first detected in 2015, over 103,000 deer have been tested for CWD in Michigan. There have been over 137,000 wild deer tested in total. The Ogemaw County deer is the Department’s 251st positive animal.

“The DNR sets surveillance goals – basically, a number of deer tested in a particular area – to understand the scale of infection in the local deer herd,” he said. “The closer we come to meeting these goals, the more data we have to identify where and to what extent chronic wasting disease exists in Michigan. Strong hunter participation in testing is critical to that learning, especially in areas where we haven’t yet met surveillance goals.”

Testing background, strategy

In addition to testing around areas of known CWD positives, the DNR in 2021 began a rotational approach to testing around the state. A group of counties is selected each year, with the eventual aim of testing enough deer in every Michigan county.

Most areas have not had a CWD detection or have not previously been part of intensive testing efforts, so little is known about disease status or pathways in these locations. In 2021 and 2022, the rotational approach focused testing in areas of both the southwestern and southeastern Lower Peninsula.

This year, testing will focus on the northwestern Lower Peninsula and a few counties in other areas where additional herd information is still needed. Focal counties for 2023 CWD testing include Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Hillsdale, Isabella, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Missaukee, Osceola and Wexford. These counties will have CWD testing drop boxes, staffed submission sites, and partner processors and taxidermists to assist with collection efforts.

In the rest of the state, testing is available through direct submission by hunters to a cooperating U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved diagnostic laboratory for a fee or through free self-sample shipping kits in counties where CWD has previously been detected.

To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people. However, as a precaution, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that infected animals not be consumed as food by either humans or domestic animals.

Hunters also are reminded to use caution when field-dressing, processing or disposal of a deer carcass. This includes practices such as wearing rubber gloves, minimizing contact with the deer’s brain and spinal tissue, and washing your hands with soap and warm water after handling any parts of the carcass.

Deer harvested from known CWD areas should never be disposed of on the landscape in non-CWD areas.

For more information on chronic wasting disease, visit Michigan.gov/CWD.

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