By LAINA STEBBINS
Capital News Service
LANSING — As the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) expands educational outreach about chronic wasting disease, a bipartisan bill to raise awareness and prevent spread of the disease is moving through the state House. The bill would increase the fine for importing deer carcasses or parts into the state, from the current range of $50-$500 to a new range of $500-$2,000. The goals of the increased penalty are both to reduce the likelihood that chronic wasting disease will spread among Michigan deer and to raise awareness about the seriousness of the problem. The bill unanimously passed the House Committee on Natural Resources in late April. Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, is the main sponsor, as well as the committee’s minority vice-chair.
With the Michigan deer-hunting season in full swing, local hunters should be conscious of new hunting regulations being enforced due to the presence of chronic wasting disease in deer. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has created new regulations that will prohibit the possession or salvage of deer that have been killed in motor vehicle collisions and will also enforce the mandatory testing of deer during the hunting season. The goal of these new regulations is to “help determine the geographic distribution and magnitude of the disease and lower deer population density, which may lower the propensity for further disease transmission,” said National Wildlife Health Center Emerging Disease Coordinator Bryan Richards. According to information from the DNR, the first case of chronic wasting disease, a neurological disease found in deer and elk that attacks the brain and produces small lesions that result in death, was confirmed in Meridian Township in April 2015. Two additional cases have also been confirmed so far this year.