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Michigan DNR vows to fight spread of CWD into Upper PeninsulaSubmitted: 02/09/2016
Story By Ben Meyer

Michigan DNR vows to fight spread of CWD into Upper Peninsula
Photos By Wisconsin DNR

UPPER PENINSULA - When a deer tested positive for chronic wasting disease near Three Lakes in December, it served as the latest example of CWD creeping north in Wisconsin. It also triggered a controversial deer baiting and feeding ban in Oneida, Forest, and Vilas counties.

But just across the state line in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, no deer have ever been found with CWD. Michigan's DNR is going all out to keep it that way.


Michigan DNR Upper Peninsula Regional Wildlife Supervisor Terry Minzey, along with plenty of other people in the UP, love plenty of Wisconsin's exports. But there's one they want no part of.

"People in the UP, 'Yoopers', as we call ourselves, like your beer. We like your cheese. A fair portion of the Yoopers like the Green Bay Packers," Minzey said. "We don't want [your] CWD."

Forty-one Wisconsin counties are now classified as "CWD-affected" by the Wisconsin DNR.

But Michigan has only found five total deer with CWD so far. All of them were within a few miles of Lansing, in the Lower Peninsula. Wildlife biologists are working hard to keep the disease out of the UP for as long as possible.

"For us here in the UP, it's a big deal for a number of reasons," Minzey said. "First of all, there's a lot we don't know about this disease, but everything we know about this disease is bad."

CWD often causes deer to stop eating, become thin and bony, and act strangely. It's always deadly.

Michigan's plan to fight the spread of CWD will likely differ from Wisconsin's.

"I think Michigan will be more aggressive," Minzey said. "We're being more aggressive down in the Lansing area. We're doing some pretty heavy sampling down there. They've shot a lot of deer."

The Michigan DNR will also be aggressive with its new "Keep the UP CWD Free!" campaign, which will feature bumper stickers, billboards, and pamphlets.

"We don't need to add one more problem for our deer herd here," Minzey said. "We certainly don't need to add a legacy that we pass on to our kids and our grandkids that we can never get rid of."

Contact between deer, bodily fluids, or even soil can transmit the disease.

The DNR hopes the campaign will stop people from bringing live deer and carcasses into the UP, in hopes of helping slow the spread of the disease.

The Michigan DNR will start testing for CWD in the UP this year.

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