Deer season started for bow hunters on October 1. The Department of Natural Resources will be testing harvested deer for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Even if a deer looks and acts healthy, it still might be affected by the neurological disorder.
“It takes about two years on average to progress to the point where the deer is symptomatic. But up until that point, they are contagious and infectious to other deer and virtually indistinguishable from non-affected deer,” said Chad Stewart, a deer, elk, and moose management specialist for the DNR.
The DNR has tested close to 80,000 deer since the disease was found in Michigan in 2015. It’s now been found in nine counties, from Jackson all the way to Montcalm and Kent counties and in the Upper Peninsula along the Wisconsin border.
In counties where the disease has been found, hunters should get their deer tested. Hunters throughout the state can get deer tested. (More information here.)
“We encourage everybody to participate and get your get your deer tested if you're hunting in those areas. It not only helps us with our surveillance, but sort of gives you a peace of mind and understanding the status of your deer that you hope to feed and to your family or share with friends,” Stewart said.
The practice of baiting deer with food such as piles of corn or apples is still banned. When deer gather together closely to feed, they can transmit the disease to others.
Updated to clarify that all hunters can get deer tested.