As hunt begins, DNR looks for help in CWD surveillance efforts

A PAIR OF young bucks were caught sparring by a trail camera in Iron County on Nov. 5. Michigan’s firearm deer season starts Thursday. (Submitted photo)

NORWAY — With the Michigan firearm deer season opening Thursday, hunters are reminded that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has stepped up its surveillance efforts in the wake of the Upper Peninsula’s first case of chronic wasting disease being confirmed Oct. 18 in Dickinson County’s Waucedah Township.

The DNR is trying to determine the extent that chronic wasting disease is present in Waucedah Township and the surrounding area, said Russ Mason, DNR Wildlife Division chief.

For their part, hunters are encouraged to get deer heads tested, limit carcass transport and dispose of deer carcasses properly.

A roughly 10-mile-radius core surveillance area — encompassing 661 square miles — has been created, centered on Waucedah Township where a 4-year-old doe killed in September tested positive for chronic wasting disease. The DNR now is working to determine whether CWD is more widespread.

Baiting for deer has not been restricted for 2018. Deer check is voluntary but encouraged. No in-state travel restrictions are currently in place. However, the DNR recommends limited carcass transport and proper disposal.

The DNR hopes to collect a minimum of 600 deer heads for testing from the core surveillance area. Through this year’s previous surveillance efforts, 358 of those heads already have been gathered and tested.

Within a roughly 75-mile-radius expanded CWD surveillance area, the DNR has set a goal of collecting at least 300 heads for testing. That goal already has been exceeded with 330 heads tested so far this year.

Several DNR deer check stations are within the core and expanded surveillance areas. In addition, there are self-service drop boxes that will be available at DNR offices in Escanaba, Norway, Crystal Falls, Stephenson, Felch, Gwinn and Marquette. Two meat processors, in Crystal Falls and Spalding, also will have drop boxes.

“Any hunter who is concerned about CWD is welcome to have their deer tested by going to one of the check stations or drop boxes,” said Craig Albright, the DNR wildlife division’s U.P. field operations manager.

Locations include —

— DNR Norway field office: Check station/24-hour drop box, 520 West U.S. 2, Norway.

— Sommers Sausage Shop: 24-hour drop box, 1370 Commercial Ave., Crystal Falls.

— DNR Crystal Falls field office: Check station/24-hour drop box, 1420 U.S. 2 West, Crystal Falls.

— DNR Felch field office: 24-hour drop box, W4079, M-69, Felch.

— P-S Locker Plant: 24-hour drop box, W3765 U.S. 2/41, Spalding.

— DNR Stephenson field office: 24-hour drop box, W5420 River Road, Stephenson.

— Rusty Rail: check station, 9074 County 426 L Road, Cornell.

— DNR Escanaba Customer Service Center: Check station/24-hour drop box, 6833 U.S. 2/41 and M-35, Gladstone.

— Kubers Feed Mill: Check station, 912 41st Ave., Menominee.

— DNR Marquette Customer Service Center: Check station/24-hour drop box, 1990 U.S. 41 South, Marquette.

— DNR Gwinn field office: 24-hour drop box, 410 West M-35, Gwinn.

Check station workers will remove deer heads. Hunters may keep the antlers and the meat. For self-service, hunters can remove the head at the base of the skull.

Once a deer head is submitted for testing, it will take up to 14 business days to receive results. Hunters with an infected deer will be notified by the DNR wildlife disease laboratory. Otherwise, results will be posted online at michigan.gov/dnrlab.

For more information on chronic wasting disease, including fact sheets and testing data, go to michigan.gov/cwd.

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