In the wake of Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD being confirmed in a wild Michigan deer, the Department of Natural Resources is moving quickly to implement an emergency plan it’s had for in place years but hoped to never use. The emergency management plan is aggressive and will likely change the dynamics of the deer population in the state for generations to come.

CWD is a neurological disease that is found in deer, elk and moose. The disease creates small pinhole like lesions in the brain that causes the animal to deteriorate mentally and physically and is always fatal. Deer infected often display unusual behavior like no fear of humans and are often described as being zombie like. They’re also much more likely to be hit by cars.

Michigan confirmed the disease in a deer killed earlier this year in Ingham Counties Meridian Township just east of Lansing.

Another, possibly more controversial part of the emergency action plan, will involve the use of federal sharpshooters from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The USFW snipers, according to my sources, will use .223 caliber rifles outfitted with silencers to kill numerous deer without causing alarm in local neighborhoods. The killings will often take place at night also in an effort to remain undetected. The snipers will kill as many deer as is deemed necessary to collect enough samples to test for CWD. If no more case are found in the core area it may hold the plan in place for the next two to three years. However if more cases of CWD are confirmed be prepared for wholesale elimination of the deer herd in the affected areas. In Wisconsin state wildlife officials there killed some 25,000 deer near Madison after an outbreak just a few years ago.

Local hunters will also be asked to help and the state will hand out unlimited antlerless tags at reduced prices and in many cases free of charge. Make no mistake the deer population in and around Lansing is in the crosshairs and could be wiped out almost completely if not altogether.

For those of you wondering if you can catch the disease the answer is no, at least for now. The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and epidemiologists at the Colorado Department of Public Health have studied CWD and found no link to any neurological disease that affects humans.

However the Michigan DNR does include the following on it’s website to make sure people remain safe:

Health officials and the Division of Wildlife advise hunters not to consume meat from animals known to be infected with the disease. In addition, they suggest hunters take simple precautions (as listed BELOW) when field dressing deer or elk taken in areas where the disease is found.

Simple Precautions Advised-

Public health officials advise hunters to take the following precautions when pursuing or handling deer and elk in infected areas of the country:

- Do not shoot, handle or consume any animal that appears sick; contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Rap Line (1-800-292-7800) if you see or harvest an animal that appears sick.

- Wear rubber gloves when field dressing carcasses.

- Bone out the meat from your animal.

- Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.

- Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.

- Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of harvested animals. (Normal field dressing coupled with boning out a carcass will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will remove remaining lymph nodes.)

- Avoid consuming the meat from any animal that tests positive for the disease.

- Request that your animal is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to meat from your animal.

It is a new day when it comes to management of whitetail deer in Michigan but unfortunately it’s not a good one.

Tune in to the Steve Gruber Show to stay up to date on all the latest information on the Michigan CWD crisis.