We have had one deer that tested positive for CWD in Michigan and it has caused one of the biggest flaps around here in a long time.
The deer was in a private cervid facility (I think that's fancy talk for deer farm). It did not get out, and there were no other deer - even those in the same facility - that tested positive.
What did our DNR do about it?
1) they destroyed all of the animals in that facility, and I'm sure they blasted it with enough chemicals to render Tokyo lifeless for the next hundred years.
2) they put an immediate ban on all baiting in the entire Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Prior to this "event" baiting had been allowed state-wide. (We'll not go into the pro's and con's of baiting at this point). The theory was that having bait on the ground encouraged nose-to-nose contact between deer and thus could spread CWD if there was any more present - which to date, there hasn't been, since the August, 2008 "event".
The argument for the ban in the entire Lower Peninsula is that because Kent County (where the facility was) borders all the other counties, the disease could spread to other deer in the state.
Oddly enough, baiting is still allowed in the Upper Peninsula, even though it shares a large border with Wisconsin, which has had positive CWD tests since 2002 - as high as 10% in adult deer in some counties. The incidence of CWD in the counties that border Michigan, however, has remained very low, but is still present.
At first, there was a great outcry by the farmers that produced the bait crops and the people who sold it.
My observation during this year's (2010) season was that baiting is going on pretty much as in the past. Once October arrives, piles of bags of carrots, apples, corn and sugar beets are stacked at almost every gas station, corner store and bar in the northern 2/3 of the lower peninsula. There are also huge piles of sugar beets available at certain places where your truck or trailer can be filled by the use of a frontloader.
The hunters don't buy the arguments of the DNR, but they are sure buying (and using) bait!
First of all, if you haven't gone winter backpacking, it needs to happen in the near future. It puts a very unique twist on the summer version of the activity. Yes, it's cold but it's nothing that being prepared can't remedy. Beyond it's therapeutic and recreational value, I think it is a very good tool for the big game hunter as well. I don't think that you can spend too much time getting to know the ins and outs of the area that you hunt. And there is no better way to gain experience in...