September 2, 2005
While a newspaper article in today’s Detroit Free Press stated a few deer
in Kent County appeared to exhibit neurological symptoms consistent with
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a Department of Natural Resources’ test on
one deer was negative for the fatal disease, according to wildlife
Our department is doing targeted, active CWD surveillance on deer around
the state, said William Moritz, chief of the DNR Wildlife Division. If any
local law enforcement agencies come into contact or are alerted about deer
that are suspect, we encourage them to dispatch the deer and turn the
carcass over to the DNR for proper testing and analysis.
Moritz said a DNR biologist examined another deer from the Kent County area
and concluded a vehicular accident most likely caused the displayed
symptoms. However to ensure a correct diagnosis, the animal is currently
being tested for CWD.
Since 2002, the DNR has conducted targeted CWD surveillance. Deer examined
displayed neurological symptoms consistent with CWD and were collected by
the DNR. DNR laboratory staff have physically examined and tested 190
suspect deer and eight suspect elk. Many of those deer had brain abscesses
resulting from trauma to the head, probably from a vehicle. As of Sept. 1,
the DNR has tested 17,286 deer and 332 elk that were submitted by hunters
or killed by a vehicle. No animal in Michigan has tested positive for CWD.
Deer are often subject to injury and illness, and receiving reports of
unhealthy deer is not unusual, said DNR Wildlife Veterinarian Steve
Schmitt. “Evidence of trauma to deer is not easily observed. Deer that
incur trauma associated with vehicular accidents may later become
lethargic, emaciated, drool, and become unafraid of humans. Pneumonia does
occur in wild deer and those deer often exhibit similar symptoms.
The DNR is continuing targeted surveillance of suspect deer. Public
participation in this effort is valuable. Should a citizen observe a deer
exhibiting neurological symptoms consistent with CWD, such as staggering,
drooling or emaciation, they should contact the nearest DNR office. It
should be noted that CWD symptoms are also characteristic of other
diseases, and CWD can only be detected through an examination of an
animal’s nervous system tissues.