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DNR: Here's how to stay safe this firearm deer season

With the start of firearm deer season beginning Monday, the DNR is asking hunters and drivers to be safe this season.

Firearm deer hunting season begins Monday, and as thousands finalize their preparations, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reminding everyone to be safe.

They say nearly half a million hunters are expected to take part. So far, hunting license sales are down about 5%, although the night before the season opens is the largest purchase date of the year, according to the DNR.

With the start of the season comes a reminder to be aware on the roads.

“So deer are really moving and that's why we're seeing an increase of deer-vehicle collisions,” said DNR wildlife outreach coordinator Rachel Leightner. “Deer will likely be moving around more so if you're not a hunter, if you're just driving to and from work or even to the grocery store in the middle of the day, we do ask that you be really cautious while you're on the roadways because we do anticipate deer to continue to move.”

The DNR is also encouraging hunters to review firearm safety before heading out, including treating every firearm as if it's loaded, not using the scope as binoculars and properly storing it during transport. Hunters are also reminded to be aware of their surroundings and not drink alcohol while hunting.

In addition, the DNR is interested in testing for chronic wasting disease (CWD), which affects deer, elk and moose. It causes abnormal behavior, emaciation, loss of bodily functions and death. CWD does not have a cure, and is always fatal.

“If you harvest a deer this upcoming week, or anytime throughout the rest of the season, we are interested in testing your deer for disease, basically, just to know if it's popped up in any other counties, and it'll just help us to understand the disease overall,” Leightner said.

To find out more about testing for CWD, click here. For hunting safety tips, click here.

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