DNR recommends Lower Peninsula baiting ban to fight deer disease
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials plan to present recommendations to a state commission on how to stop the spread of a deadly disease among deer.
The department will meet with the state Natural Resources Commission next week about chronic wasting disease in Michigan deer. Department officials plan to suggest banning the use of food piles and non-synthetic deer urine-based lures in deer hunting across the Lower Peninsula.
The department will also recommend expanding a management zone for the disease to 13 Lower Peninsula counties. Officials are proposing expanded hunting of antlerless deer in the 13-county zone to better manage the populations.
Deer with chronic wasting disease have been found since May 2015 in Clinton, Ingham, Ionia, Kent and Montcalm counties. The disease affects the central nervous systems of deer, elk and moose, attacking the brains of infected animals and producing small lesions that result in death.
“The nature of the disease itself is really insidious,” said Chad Stewart, the department’s deer management specialist. “It’s very unlikely to identify it early on. When you do find it, it’s likely been there for a long time.”
The disease spreads by animals’ bodily fluids, making bait and feeding piles problematic since they bring deer together nose-to-nose.
“We know baiting is an added component that brings deer to a concentrated area,” said Stewart.
The Lower Peninsula-wide baiting ban, proposed to take effect in 2019, “is the one I think will generate the most discussion,” he said.
The recommendations are the result of a six-month public input process.
Department officials will need to engage hunters and other stakeholders once the Natural Resources Commission offers input on the recommendations.