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DNR warns of Chronic Wasting Disease in Michigan counties

The DNR is warning hunters and people living in specific Michigan counties to be aware of Chronic Wasting Disease affecting the deer population.

The DNR is warning hunters of the neurological disease that is threatening the state's deer population. Chronic Wasting Disease has been found in several counties in Michigan including Ingham County, Clinton County, and most recently in Montcalm, Kent and Ionia Counties.

Today during a Natural Resources Commission meeting, experts with the DNR presented the recent research on the impact of CWD.

"The concern is once CWD becomes detected in an area it tends to exponentially grow and accumulate both in the environment and in the deer herd," deer management specialist for the DNR Chad Stewart said.

Chronic Wasting Disease symptoms include a deer walking funny, standing with a wide stance or foaming or excess saliva around the mouth.

"It is a very slow moving but still progressive disease that eventually causes loss of neurological function," Stewart said.

Deer may not show signs of the disease for several months.

"Deer are social animals, they tend to pass it directly from one to another or indirectly by contaminating the environment which can remain infectious for several years, to another deer," Stewart said.

With five counties now on the DNR's radar, experts are encouraging hunters to bring their game in for testing.

"What we encourage hunters to do or anybody that is consuming venison is to get your deer tested and that goes a long way in informing whether or not the deer has CWD or not," Stewart said.

Even if the deer isn't acting strange, it could still be infected.

"If you're in an area that is known to have CWD or along the periphery of that area and you see a deer that is acting abnormally, certainly give a local DNR biologist a call," Stewart said.

The DNR will have three other meetings within the next few months to discuss the state's plan combating CWD moving forward.

They encourage hunters and people in the community to go to their website to understand what the disease is, the signs and symptoms and what you should do if you see a deer exhibiting strange behavior.

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