By MATT FURST
Capital News Service
LANSING — The spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) may not deter hunters from going north this season.
Bobby Urban, an East Lansing resident and avid bow-hunter, said he would return to his favorite deer hunting spot in Mansfield near Wisconsin this fall.
“I guess I’ve given it some thought, but I don’t think the disease a big enough threat to keep me from hunting in the U.P.,” Urban said. “No deer have tested positive for it in Michigan, so I don’t think I should be too worried.”
Department of Natural Resources Assistant Administrative Manager Tim Melko said that he believes hunters will return and this will be a normal hunting season, despite a 22 percent reduction of hunting licenses in Wisconsin, where several cases of CWD have been confirmed.
“I don’t know anyone in the U.P. that’s been scared off by the threat of CWD, so I think everything will be the same as years past,” Melko said.
Urban said that he and his five hunting buddies have been going to the same spot for the past four years. “We really enjoy getting away for a week and the hunting is always great,” Urban said.
Although the disease is not here yet, it may soon be within our borders, said Dr. Willie Reed, director of animal health and diagnostics at Michigan State University.
“CWD started in Colorado and has slowly been moving east across the country,” Reed said. “It is likely that there may be some cases of CWD found in Michigan in the near future.”
CWD is a highly contagious disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer and elk by disrupting their central nervous system, Reed said. He said that the disease hasn’t been found to infect humans or domestic animals.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is trying to stop CWD from entering Michigan, said Anne Wilson, DNR communications representative in the Upper Peninsula.
Wilson said the DNR will test at least 50 deer from the four counties abutting Wisconsin.
“Hunters can bring in their deer to find out if they’re infected,” Wilson said.
The DNR has also established an artificial border for infected deer, Wilson said. She said that if Wisconsin finds an infected deer within 50 miles of Michigan, baiting regulations for the deer would be revised.
If an infected deer is found within the 50-mile buffer zone of either peninsula, baiting will be outlawed in that peninsula, said Brad Wurfel, DNR press secretary.
Wurfel said the outlawing of baiting could be a sensitive issue. Many hunters believe that baiting is the only way to be successful, he said.
That doesn’t bother Urban.
“I don’t bait anyway, so it wouldn’t matter to me. I’m just excited to go hunting.”
© 2002, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism
By MATT FURST