By Liam Tiernan
Clinton County Chatter Staff Reporter
One deer in Clinton County was among two deer in mid-Michigan that tested positive for CWD, bringing the total up to seven in the past year.
Department of Natural Resources officers report that a three-year-old female harvested by Department sharpshooters in Watertown Township tested positive for the disease.
CWD, or Chronic Wasting Disease, affects deer, moose, elk, and other cervids. The disease is neurological, affecting and attacking the brain and central nervous system, causing death. The disease is spread through contact with infected bodily fluids.
“CWD is one of the biggest threats to deer populations in the northeastern United States. Animals that contract the disease aren’t expected to live more than six months,” said DNR officer Brian Frawley, an officer with years of experience enforcing laws concerning white-tailed deer.
The Clinton County Board of Commissioners, in their official policy on hunting on county-owned land, said that “Hunting is a legal recreational activity enjoyed by many and which results in eliminated animals being productively used as food for the table. The Clinton County Board of Commissioners approves to utilize public hunting, as appropriate, to manage wildlife found within its parks.”
Hunting is also an important part of Clinton County’s economy.
“It gets busier in the town when hunting season comes around,” said Marie Verellen, resident of St. Johns. “The diners all fill up before dawn and the bars fill up after dark.”
Some estimate that the state of Michigan makes $1,281,527,914 solely from hunters traveling during deer hunting season.
The DNR plans to begin intensively culling herds in areas where the affected animals were harvested.
DNR officer Chad Stewart said that intensive removal of animals is a two-step approach. “One, it helps us understand prevalence rates and spread so we can make informed decisions on disease management moving forward; and two, by removing individual deer around areas with known disease occurrence, it reduces the potential for spread and accumulation in our deer herd, which has benefits not only locally, but on the periphery of the management zone as well.”
CWD is not known to affect humans, but the DNR advises avoiding contact with contaminated animals or venison.