Chronic Wasting Disease Plan Finalized

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State officials today announced they have finalized an aggressive surveillance and testing plan for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), as well as a detailed contingency plan in the event that it is detected in Michigan.

Acknowledging the serious threat CWD poses to both the state's captive and free ranging cervids (deer and elk), Michigan Department of Agriculture Director Dan Wyant and Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director K.L. Cool presented an executive summary of the plan. Surveillance & Response Plan for Chronic Wasting Disease

CWD is newly emerging and not fully understood at this point. It is a disease of deer and elk that attacks the animals? nervous systems, causing chronic weight loss that eventually leads to death. It is not known to be contagious to humans, livestock or other animals.

Wyant and Cool emphasized the critical need for coordinated action since both agencies have various responsibilities regarding deer and elk in the state. MDA oversees the licensing, registration and inspection of the state's approximately 1,000 captive, or privately owned, cervid operations, representing about 25,000 animals. MDNR manages the state's wild, free ranging white-tailed deer and elk herds - estimated at 1.8 million animals - and monitors their health and well being. While Michigan has taken several steps over the past few years to keep CWD out of the state, the recent discovery of CWD in Wisconsin and other states prompted the two agencies to review present policies and enhance surveillance plans. The detailed response/contingency plan was developed to ensure the state is prepared to respond if the disease is ever discovered here.

Key components of the enhanced surveillance and response/contingency plan, forged with input from university researchers, the agriculture industry and outdoor and hunting organizations, include:

  • Identifying and testing all potential risk imports, including all Wisconsin cervids brought into Michigan for the past three years.
  • Conducting surveillance on all privately owned cervid herds throughout the state by testing death losses of all animals 16 months of age and older.
  • Testing of wild, free ranging cervid that is "targeted" (identifying and testing free-ranging deer and elk statewide that show symptoms consistent with CWD), and "active" (testing of outwardly healthy cervids harvested by hunters or via crop damage permits, or killed by vehicle collisions).
  • Sampling free ranging cervids from all 83 Michigan counties, based upon priority factors, during a three-year cycle. Initially, approximately 50 deer will be tested from each of 40 counties. In addition, 50 elk will also be tested annually.
  • Activate a joint MDA/MDNR CWD Management Team to respond immediately in the event that the state's comprehensive surveillance activities detect CWD in either privately owned or free ranging deer and elk. This team will coordinate the decision-making process and operations, which will be aimed at quick identification and aggressive response to limit further transmissions of the disease and eradicate it, as well as keeping governmental and stakeholder groups and the public and media informed.