The Michigan Department of Natural Resources placed Ionia County under observation after a fatal deer disease was detected in the area.
Seven deer tested positive for the chronic wasting disease. As three of them were found in the vicinity of Ionia, the officials decided to extend the management zone.
The chronic wasting disease affects elk, moose, and white-tailed deer. The neurological condition is not dangerous to humans. However, the Centers for Disease Control recommends people not to consume meat from animals that are infected.
The first case of the fatal deer disease in Michigan was found in May 2015.
The chronic wasting disease does not have any symptoms. The only way the authorities can detect the presence of the affection is to euthanize the animal and to take tissue samples.
The condition is classified as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, being similar to the mad cow disease. The infectious agents are prions, a type of proteins.
The officials said that they don’t have a clear image on the spread of the disease yet. They plan to expand the surveillance area in order to understand the impact on the deer population.
The hunters will be forbidden to bait deer with salt licks, apples, or by any other ways. They are also encouraged to bring their hunt to the DNR check station, in order for the wildlife biologists to perform tests and verify how many animals are affected.
Deer that are found hit by cars on the road are the primary interest of the wildlife officials. The fact that the animal was unable to see the danger and run may be an indicator of the chronic wasting disease.
The authorities placed restrictions in 17 townships from Ingham, Clinton, and Eaton counties. In this area, hunters are required to test their deer in 72 hours after the harvest.
The DNR will be lowering the costs of antlerless deer licenses to $12 and will organize an additional deer hunt season in September. The officials want to test as many animals as possible.
The first time the chronic wasting condition appeared in the US was during the 1980s, when the fatal deer disease led to a 45% decline in the local deer population.
Until now, it was believed that the disease was limited to small areas of Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. However, as it was recently discovered in other counties across the US, the fatal deer disease became an increasing concern for wildlife managers.
The DNR asks every person that sees a deer that looks sick or behaves unnaturally to call their special Disease Lab line or to send them an online observation report.
Image Source: YouTube