With the firearm deer season complete, the Michigan DNR has now identified a total of 30 free-ranging white-tailed deer that are confirmed or suspected to have chronic wasting disease. Several thousand additional samples are awaiting testing by Michigan State University, so numbers for this deer season could still change.
Since May 2015 when the first CWD deer was found, the DNR has tested approximately 23,000 deer. Of those tested, 30 cases of CWD have been suspected or confirmed in deer from Clinton, Ingham, Kent and Montcalm counties. CWD suspect means that the deer tested positive on an initial screening test, but has not yet been confirmed through additional testing. It is very rare that a CWD suspect will not be confirmed as a CWD-positive animal, but it is possible.
From 2015 to 2016, a total of four deer (in DeWitt, Eagle and Watertown townships) in Clinton County tested positive. So far in 2017, a single CWD suspect has been identified in Westphalia Township, also in Clinton County. In Ingham County, five deer from Meridian Township tested positive from 2015 to 2016; since then, no deer from Ingham County have tested positive for CWD.
In Montcalm County, a total of 17 deer from the following townships are suspected or confirmed to be positive for CWD: Cato, Douglass, Fairplain, Maple Valley, Montcalm, Pine, Reynolds, Sidney and Winfield. In Kent County, three CWD-positive 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.
By Gary Sefton
(Editor’s note: Gary Sefton is an expert caller of deer and turkeys and who has won the World Deer Calling Championship and has conducted far more than 1,000 deer calling seminars throughout the U.S. This story is excerpted from his book “CALLING WHITETAILS / Methods, Myths & Magic,” a no-nonsense, back-to-basics guide to calling deer, and other deceptions to help. Chapters include whitetail deer practical vocabulary, deer calling basics (why deer respond to calls), calling during the rut (mating anticipation), antler rattling, other deceptions (scents, blinds, decoys), tips to increase your calling success, be familiar with your calls, and have a plan. The book is available at www.targetcommbooks.com.)
I can’t begin to tell you how many tales of woe I’ve heard from seasoned deer hunters who missed out on golden opportunities because their brains were on pause when a buck showed up.
If you believe in something like a deer call enough to buy it and haul it to the woods with you, then you should believe something is going to happen when you use it. You want the deer to come into the area to investigate the deer making the call. He may come in hard and fast or he may slip in and be gone before you know he was there.
Make the call and then wait for him! Look for him! Stay on ‘red alert’ for 15 to 20 minutes after you make the call. Expect a response and anticipate success. You will still get caught with your guard down from time to time, but you won’t feel so dumb about it.
A 3 -year-old female deer taken during Michigan's youth deer hunting season is likely to be the 10th free-ranging deer in the state found to have chronic wasting disease.
The animal was harvested in Montcalm Township in Montcalm County, and preliminary tests indicate the animal may be positive for CWD. The DNR is awaiting final confirmation from the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
Montcalm is located north of Grand Rapids. Since May 2015, the DNR has actively conducted surveillance for CWD. To date, more than 14,000 deer have been tested since the first positive case was found, with nine cases of CWD confirmed already in free-ranging white-tailed deer previously identified in Ingham and Clinton counties.
The suspect deer from Montcalm County was harvested by a youth hunter during the September youth season. The hunter voluntarily took the animal to a DNR deer check station and submitted the animal for testing.
"We cannot thank this family enough for bringing their deer to a check station, said Dr. Kelly Straka," DNR state wildlife veterinarian. "Without their effort, the disease may have gone undetected in this area. We encourage hunters from any part of the state, especially the south-central Lower Peninsula, to have their deer tested."
CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. It is caused by the transmission of infectious, self-multiplying proteins (prions) contained in saliva and other body fluids of infected animals. Susceptible animals can acquire CWD by direct exposure to these fluids, from environments contaminated with these fluids or the carcass of a diseased animal.
Some CWD-infected animals will display abnormal behaviors, progressive weight loss and physical debilitation; however, deer can be infected for many years without showing internal or external symptoms. There is no cure; once a deer is infected with CWD, it will die.
"Infected deer don't necessarily look sick," Straka said. "Having your deer tested is the only way to know if it has chronic wasting disease."