Chronic wasting disease suspected in 30 Mich. deer

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has identified 30 free-ranging white-tailed deer that are confirmed or suspected to have chronic wasting disease.

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose.

The first chronic wasting disease deer was found in May 2015 and the DNR said they have tested 23,000 deer since. Of those tested, 30 cases have been suspected or confirmed in deer from Clinton, Ingham, Kent and Montcalm counties.

"Several thousand additional samples are awaiting testing by Michigan State University, so numbers for this deer season could still change," according to a DNR news release. 

A deer suspected of having chronic waste disease means the deer tested positive but has not been confirmed through additional testing. 

Where they are

  • From 2015 to 2016, four deer in DeWitt, Eagle and Watertown townships tested positive; in 2017, one suspected deer was found in Westphalia Township, all in Clinton County. 
  • Five deer from Meridian Township tested positive from 2015 to 2016 in Ingham County; there were no confirmed cases in 2017. 
  • Most of the deer with the disease is in Montcalm County. Seventeen deer from Cato, Douglass, Fairplain, Maple Valley, Montcalm, Pine, Reynolds, Sidney and Winfield have been identified by the DNR.
  • In Kent County, three deer were found in Nelson and Spencer townships.

This is the first year any CWD-suspect free-ranging deer were found in Montcalm or Kent counties, according to the DNR release. 

The DNR said they set up management zones where the disease has been detected and have intensified surveillance in those zones. They have also opened additional deer check stations and encourage all hunters to have their deer tested at the stations. 

There have been no reported cases of chronic wasting disease infection in humans. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization recommend hunters check their deer before consuming.