No new CWD found in UP deer

Testing done on hundreds of deer taken during the 2018 firearm hunting season so far has turned up no new cases of chronic wasting disease in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials said.

As of this week, 758 deer heads had been submitted and tested, well beyond the goal of 600 set for the core CWD surveillance area around Dickinson County’s Waucedah Township after a 4-year-old doe tested positive for the disease Oct. 18.

Hunters also turned in 675 deer heads for the CWD expanded surveillance area that extends north into Marquette County, again exceeding the minimum goal set of 300 deer heads, according to the DNR.

“Assistance from hunters has been outstanding in helping us reach these goals,” DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason said.

The testing was aimed at determining how much, if at all, CWD might have spread in the region.

Deer tested include road-killed animals and deer taken under deer damage shooting permits, which was how the first case was detected on a Waucedah farm, said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer in Marquette.

About 260 deer were brought to the DNR office in Norway from Nov. 15 through Nov. 30, up from 40 during the 2017 hunt, Pepin said. He noted, however, the Norway site in past years was not a regular check station so direct comparisons are difficult.

But the numbers rose about 88 percent at the Crystal Falls station, which submitted about 200 samples for testing, DNR wildlife biologist Monica Joseph said.

Results usually are available within 14 days.

Caused by an aberrant protein called a prion, CWD attacks the animal’s brain, creating lesions that result in neurologic symptoms in deer, moose and elk. It is considered 100 percent fatal in those species.

Hunters who submitted deer for testing could keep antlers and the venison after samples are taken.

Though no human illnesses have been reported from eating the meat of CWD-infected animals, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not recommend doing so, according to the DNR.

Though the goals have been reached, the DNR will continue to accept deer heads

for testing through the muzzleloader and late archery season if hunters have a concern, Joseph said.

Most who brought in their deer, however, simply wanted to help the DNR reach the U.P. sampling goals, she said, adding, “we could have taken many more.”

Statewide, nearly 22,000 deer have been tested for CWD so far this year, with 18 new suspected positive deer found by the state’s disease laboratory at Michigan State University in November, Pepin said. All were from downstate, he said.

Betsy Bloom can be reached at 906-774-2772, ext. 40, or