Department of Natural Resources
At today’s meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission in Lansing, the commission approved a series of deer hunting regulations aimed at slowing the spread of chronic wasting disease. The action came after months of commission members and Department of Natural Resources staff hearing from hunters, residents and others interested in the long-term health of the state’s deer population, and a thorough review of the best available science on chronic wasting disease.
“We hope that by setting these specific CWD regulations we can limit the movement of this disease in Michigan,” said Vicki Pontz, NRC chairperson. “We appreciate all the comments we have received from across the state. Michigan hunters are very passionate about deer and deer hunting, and I look forward to working with them as we continue to confront this threat to wildlife and our valued hunting tradition.”
CWD is a fatal neurological (brain and nervous system) disease found in cervids – deer, elk and moose. The disease attacks the brains of infected animals and produces small lesions that result in death. There is no cure; once an animal is infected, it will die.
The disease first was discovered in Michigan in a free-ranging deer in May 2015. To date, more than 31,000 deer in Michigan have been tested for chronic wasting disease, and CWD has been confirmed in 60 free-ranging deer in six Michigan counties: Clinton, Ingham, Ionia, Jackson, Kent and Montcalm.
The approved deer hunting regulations, which will be in effect for the 2018 deer seasons unless noted otherwise, include:
In addition, the commission asked the DNR to move forward with:
These regulations come after much collaborative work to better understand the scope and pathways of CWD and best management actions. In October 2017, Michigan hosted a CWD symposium that brought together roughly 200 wildlife scientists and other experts from across the country.
Shortly after the symposium, the DNR and the Natural Resources Commission announced the creation of a nine-member Chronic Wasting Disease Working Group. This group was charged with developing recommendations on additional steps and actions to substantially mitigate CWD in Michigan, and in January presented initial recommendations centered around messaging, partnership funding, regional management, and the importance of continuing a solid science-based approach.
Throughout April and May of this year, the DNR hosted a series of public engagement meetings in Bay City, Cadillac, Detroit, DeWitt, Gaylord, Houghton, Iron Mountain, Kalamazoo, Marquette, Newberry and Rockford. These meetings provided many opportunities for the DNR to share the latest information and recommendations about CWD, while encouraging the public to offer their best ideas on how to slow the disease.
During this outreach period, more than 650 peopled attend public engagement meetings, and the DNR received comments and suggestions via 361 hard-copy surveys and 135 online surveys.
Details on all regulations will be added next week to the online hunting digests on the DNR website, and DNR staff will be available at deer-check stations during the hunting seasons, too.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.
Accompanying deer photos are available below for download.