Conservation officers conducted operations near the I-94 corridor of the Michigan/Indiana border, resulting in the seizure of the deer. Five shot deer were transported by hunters into Michigan from Illinois, and one was transported from Wisconsin. Michigan law prohibits importing deer from CWD-positive states and provinces.
Five Michigan hunters have been charged with the illegal transportation of deer into the state. They will be arraigned in the 5th District Court in Berrien County. Violation of Michigan’s wildlife importation laws may result in fines of up to $500 and up to 90 days in jail.
“The transportation of whitetail deer into Michigan from a CWD-positive state is a very serious concern,” said Conservation Officer Andrew Bauer, who organized the enforcement operation. “CWD can spread from illegally imported deer to our deer herd, causing a very significant negative impact.”
The DNR announced in late May 2015 that CWD had been found for the first time in a free-ranging white-tail deer in Ingham County. Since that time, two additional deer also have tested positive. CWD is a neurological (brain and nervous system) disease found in deer, elk and moose.
There currently is no treatment for CWD; it is fatal in all cases.
Current scientific understanding suggests CWD may be transmitted both directly through animal-to-animal contact, as well as indirectly through a contaminated environment. Previous studies have shown that CWD prions exist in the saliva, urine, blood, and feces of infected cervids. Additionally, a study by the University of Wisconsin suggests that the CWD prion can remain indefinitely in certain types of soil, and binding to soil dramatically increases the infectiousness of CWD prions.
To date, there is no evidence that chronic wasting disease presents any risk to non-cervids, including humans, either through contact with an infected animal or from handling venison. However, as a precaution, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend that infected animals not be consumed as food by either humans or domestic animals.
Many western states do have chronic wasting disease, which is why the Michigan DNR has strict importation laws.
Harvested free-ranging deer, elk or moose from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan all have importation restrictions.
These states and provinces have detected CWD in free-ranging animals; therefore, only the following parts of deer, elk or moose carcasses may be brought into Michigan: deboned meat, antlers, antlers attached to a skull cap cleaned of all brain and muscle tissue, hides, upper canine teeth or a finished taxidermy mount.
If you are notified by another state or province that a deer, elk or moose you brought into Michigan has tested positive for CWD, you must contact the DNR Wildlife Disease Lab within two business days (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at 517-336-5030 and provide details. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture may have regulations on importation from Canada. Call 301-851-3300 for details.
Michigan citizens should call the DNR Report All Poaching hotline (800-292-7800) with any information regarding importation violations.
Click for more information on CWD.
(Top photo of a deer with CWD courtesy of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)