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Archery deer season opens with decrease in CWD testing

According to the DNR, focused testing will continue, but the previous level was not sustainable. The department is facing staff and money shortage.

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — With fall comes the start of deer hunting here in Michigan. Archery deer season opens today, and that means hunters across the state will be taking to the woods. 

But deer hunters should prepare for big changes to DNR check stations this fall.

The state won’t be testing as many deer for chronic wasting disease, prioritizing known CWD areas.

Also expect fewer check stations and drop-box locations. There will be reduced dates and hours, many only opening for parts of the firearm deer season in November.

That could mean longer wait-times, and you’re required to wear a mask and social distance.

According to the DNR, focused testing will continue for years to come, but the previous level was not sustainable. The department is facing staff and money shortages due to long-term declines in license sales and the pandemic.

It is, however, not decreasing testing for another disease found in Michigan deer.

“While chronic wasting disease has not been shown to be able to transmit to humans, it is one of those things, would you still feel comfortable with that,” said Ashley Autenrieth, a deer program biologist at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “That being said, we also have bovine tuberculosis in Michigan. It’s the only place in the world in which it is endemic in a wild deer herd. We are still testing in that area.”

If you’re hunting in any of the following six counties in the northeast, the DNR recommends to get your deer tested for TB, which can transmit to humans. 

  • Alcona
  • Alpena
  • Iosco
  • Montmorency
  • Oscoda
  • Presque Isle counties

Autenrieth said if you’re hunting in a known CWD area, consider sending a sample to a lab or waiting for a check station to open. Although it’s not a food safety test, it could offer some peace of mind. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if your deer tests positive for CWD, do not eat that meat.

The CDC website states, “A negative test result does not guarantee that an individual animal is not infected with CWD, but it does make it considerably less likely and may reduce your risk of exposure to CWD.”

Additional resources from the DNR:

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