MDNR holds public meetings on disease that threatens deer

Apr 10, 2018

State biologists are asking the public for help combating a fatal disease that threatens deer. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is holding public hearings about chronic wasting disease (CWD) in April and May.

“CWD is one of the biggest threats – that we have long-term – to the sustainability of our deer herd,” says Chad Stewart, deer management specialist at the DNR.

Chronic wasting disease is a neurological disease that can kill deer, elk and moose. Increased salivation and emaciation are symptoms of the disease.

Since 2015, 57 wild deer have tested positive for CWD in Clinton, Ingham, Ionia, Kent and Montcalm counties, with the highest numbers in Montcalm County. The DNR hasn’t found infected deer in the Upper Peninsula.

Stewart says it is nearly impossible to eradicate the disease, but the DNR’s goal is the keep CWD tamped down and confined to a small area. 

“We do not want CWD to accumulate and spread throughout the deer herd like some of these places that have had it for 40 or 50 years,” says Stewart.

States like Wisconsin, Colorado and Wyoming have been struggling with the disease.

Stewart says the primary way to stop CWD’s spread is to remove infected animals from the area, which the DNR has done. But they also need a long-term management strategy.

“We realize that this is more of a marathon than a sprint,” says Stewart. “So even though you want to act quickly … we feel like it’s much better to build long-term support for whatever our approach is going to be.” 


Map of chronic wasting disease in North America.
Credit USGS

As part of the process, they are looking to Michigan residents – especially hunters – to share suggestions and observations. 

“We are asking them to share their thoughtful opinions on any new hunting regulations they believe may be needed before the start of the 2018 deer hunting season,” says Vicki Pontz, the chair of the Natural Resources Commission.

The commission will look over the DNR’s proposal and public input before approving a long-term management plan for CWD.

A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, April 11 at 6 p.m. in Cadillac. There’s another meeting in Gaylord May 1. Residents throughout the state can also submit input at 

Schedule forr DNR public engagement meetings on chronic wasting disease:

  • Bay City – April 10, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Delta College Lecture Theater, Room G-160, 1961 Delta Road in University Center.
  • Cadillac – April 11, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Wexford Center, 1320 North Mitchell.
  • Kalamazoo – April 12, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 2900 Lake Street.
  • Detroit – April 17, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Doubletree Detroit-Dearborn, 5801 Southfield Fwy.
  • Rockford – April 18, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Rockford Fine Arts Auditorium, 4100 Kroes Street NE.
  • Dewitt – April 19, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Dewitt High School Auditorium, 13601 S. Panther Drive.
  • Marquette – April 24, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Marquette High School Auditorium, 1203 W Fair Ave.
  • Iron Mountain – April 25, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. (central time), Bay College, 2801 North US 2
  • Gaylord – May 1, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Ellison Place, 150 Dale Drive.
  • Newberry – May 2, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Tahquamenon High School Auditorium, 700 Newberry Ave.
  • Houghton – May 3, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Magnuson Hotel, 820 Shelden Ave.