By Julie Campbell
Meridian Times Staff Reporter
A 9-month-old male deer was found in Meridian Township with a disease known as CWD. CWD stands for Chronic Wasting Disease, a fatal disease that affect white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose.
Deer in Meridian Township have been on close watch by the citizens, as it’s important that the township keeps track of the prevalence rates and spread.
“The township parks department, police, and administration are cooperating with the DNR to monitor the spread and attempt to control the disease,” said Capt. Greg Frenger of the Meridian Township Police Department. “It is unclear how the disease came to Michigan. The first case in Michigan was discovered in May of 2015 in Meridian Township.”
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources determined that there are nine townships across Michigan that have CWD problems. Deer hunting season is closed in Michigan, so samples are collected from road-killed animals and deer shot by state-sanctioned sharpshooters. Land owners are asked to let sharp-shooters on their property.
Although CWD is a common animal disease, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research study, there can be a potential transmission to humans. With more and more CWD-positive deer showing up, efforts are growing to find out more about the distribution of the disease. The residents of Meridian Township are asked to take part in slowing down the spread of this disease.
“Deer bait piles are prohibited,” said Frenger. “The disease can be spread to other deer using the bait pile. Residents should call to report any ‘tame’ deer or deer that appear unhealthy.”
There is also a concern for Michigan’s reputation as a hunting and fishing state.
“The state of Michigan and its hunters as well as its reputation as one of the top hunting and fishing states in the country will be affected by this finding,” said James Sikarskie, wildlife veterinarian for Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “When it was found in Wisconsin, it initially resulted in a decrease in hunters and the loss of revenue their licenses brought to that state as well as the fact that removing deer by hunters is one of the main means of potential control of the spread of the disease.”
The cause has yet to be determined, but there are a few indications as to what may be spreading this disease around.
“So far there is no ‘smoking gun’ to determine the cause,” said Sikarskie. “It could have come from a farmed deer that escaped or transmitted the agent which is an abnormal protein or prion across a fence to the wild deer.”
Some aren’t sure why there’s much concern over the disease, given that deer are hunting targets.
“It’s weirding me out how these deer just show up dead with this disease, like where are they getting it from? I don’t know, but it better not affect me.” said Sarah Cabala, 20, of Haslett. “At the same time I think it’s pretty f—-ed up that people worry about a disease killing the deer when they’re probably just going to be hunted down anyway.”