State wildlife officials have confirmed the first case of a fatal neurological disease in free-ranging deer.
It’s called chronic wasting disease. It only affects deer, elk and moose.
CWD can leave them acting strange towards humans with- what officials call – “zombie-like” movements.
Dr. Steve Schmitt is with the DNR wildlife disease lab.
“The animals are thin, that’s because they’re not eating, they show abnormal behavior, they lose their fear of humans, you can approach them. Sometimes they walk in circles, sometimes they isolate themselves, sometimes they stand around with their tongue out drooling.”
The six year old doe was found in Ingham county in April, when someone called the police reporting suspicious activity from the deer. After testing done by the DNR, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Michigan State University Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, the deer was found positive of CWD.
Keith Creagh is the DNR Director. He has helped create an action plan for for Clint, Shiawassee and Ingham counties.
“Mandatory checking of deer will be required in this area in the hunting seasons, and restrictions will apply to the movement of carcasses and parts of deer taken in this area, I’ll also create a chronic wasting disease management zone which will include Clinton, Shiawassee, and Ingham counties.”
Although this is the first case reported in free-ranging deer, there could be others within the state.
Creagh says hunters all over Michigan should watch deer for chronic wasting disease, and notify the DNR if you suspect a case.
Officials say humans do not contract chronic wasting disease. However, as a precaution, hunters are urged not to eat the meat of an infected deer.