Culling deer herd reduced chronic wasting disease

Capital News Service

LANSING — Federal sharpshooters and more hunting permits that reduced the deer population helped fight chronic wasting disease among white-tailed deer, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reports. Results are in from the first-year management strategy for chronic wasting disease in Michigan. Wildlife officials confirmed the disease in the state’s wild deer herd in May 2015. During the past 16 months, the DNR tested more than 6,000 animals killed by hunters, sharpshooters employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or in traffic accidents. Eight tested positive, the report shows.

Of wolves, deer, wildflowers and maples

Capital News Service
LANSING — Grey wolves are good for wildflowers like the nodding trillium and the Canada mayflower in the Great Lakes region. They’re also good for young red maples and sugar maples. That’s because white-tailed deer are bad for both wildflowers and maple saplings. And wolves are bad for deer. With the resurgence of wolves in the region, smart deer are learning to keep away from areas with many of the predators, meaning that wildflowers and young maples there have a better chance of survival, according to a recent study by scientists from the University of Notre Dame and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR).

DNR steps up chronic wasting monitoring

Capital News Service
LANSING – In an effort to protect Michigan’s deer, the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wants to double the number of core areas monitored for deadly chronic wasting disease. This expansion would include six new townships in Eaton County and two in Clinton County. The fatal disease interferes with the digestive abilities of deer, literally causing them to waste away in its later stages, said Drew YoungeDyke, chief information officer for Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the state’s largest hunting organization. The disease can cause deer to become delirious, walking in circles for hours and being unable to even properly drink water, he said. “They become kind of robotic.”

The full extent of the spread of the disease is not yet known, said Chad Stewart, the DNR’s deer management specialist.

Do the crime, pay fine – but what is a deer worth?

LANSING — Is a 21-point trophy buck worth 25,000 bucks? Not according to poacher John Baker Jr. who was convicted of illegally shooting one on property belonging to Valhalla Ranch, a private hunting resort in Grayling. Maybe — or maybe not — according to the Court of Appeals, which upheld Baker’s criminal conviction and prison sentence but ordered a Crawford County Circuit Court judge to reconsider the amount of restitution he owes the ranch. Valhalla promotes itself as “a premier hunting destination, nestled in one of the most picturesque locations in Northern Michigan” and as “a place of incredible whitetails with massive antlers and body size.”

The tangled tale of the poached buck’s price tag — and Baker’s legal woes — began in October 2012 when he and another man were hunting on a friend’s land adjacent to the ranch. A 10-foot fence surrounds the ranch.

On the road, are dead deer cash cows?

Capital News Service
LANSING – When dusk hits, it’s time for Russ Stoddard’s business to begin because the combination of deer and vehicles keeps him busy all fall long. “November is easily the busiest month of the year,” said Stoddard, owner of Michigan Highway Hazard Recovery, a private cleanup company in Capac. “We can get sometimes up to 100 per day.”
Stoddard is contracted to clean up deer and other animal roadkill in several counties across the state, including Oakland, Kalamazoo, Allegan, Calhoun, St. Joseph, Branch and Berrien. Oakland was one of the top five counties for deer-vehicle accidents in 2011, according to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

Oh deer, more deer in the U.P.

Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan’s mild winter could mean more deer in the Upper Peninsula this year. Experts say unusually warm weather could make more food sources available, giving deer access to more forage sites and an advantage over predators. Those patterns could forecast an exceptional hunting season in the fall. Brent Rudolph, deer and elk program leader for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), said if mild temperatures and low snowfall persist through the rest of winter, deer populations could reproduce in greater numbers. “The most critical time, in terms of having an impact on population, is early spring,” Rudolph said.