2017 Michigan Deer Forecast

2017 Michigan Deer Forecast Feature
Photo By Ron Sinfelt

Diseased deer are an increasing concern among those in the Michigan DNR as more sick animals have been detected. DNR deer management specialist Chad Stewart is hoping our hunters will be willing to help combat CWD and TB in Deer Management Units where those diseases have been found. They can help by harvesting deer, especially adult does, and having them tested.

Michigan's original CWD Zone (DMU 333) was expanded this year and a new CWD DMU (359) was established in response to a pair of CWD-positive whitetails that came from a fenced deer farm in Mecosta County. Portland and Danby Townships in Ionia County and Roxand Township in Eaton County were added to DMU 333. Nine CWD positive deer have been identified in 333 so far and they have all been related. DMU 359 includes six townships in Mecosta County (Mecosta, Austin, Morton, Hinton, Aetna and Deerfield) and three in Montcalm County (Cato, Winfield and Reynolds). No more captive whitetails, other than the original two, have tested positive for CWD, and no free-ranging deer in the area have had the disease so far.

Mandatory deer checks will be required for all deer taken by hunters in DMUs 333 and 359. Stewart said CWD test results for deer from 333 in the past "have almost always been available in less than a week," but one hunter reported taking 10 days to get test results. Similar timing of testing is expected for deer from 359, but another day or two may be added for the time it takes to get heads from those whitetails to the disease lab.

To reduce the chances of more CWD being brought into the state, the importation of any cervid (deer, elk or moose) carcass or parts thereof, into Michigan from any state or province is prohibited, even if CWD has not been detected in those states or provinces. What hunters can bring back to Michigan from out of state hunts are deboned meat, antlers with cleaned skullcaps, and mounts of animals by taxidermists.

Most deer infected with TB have been in the northeast Lower Peninsula in DMU 487. The highest TB prevalence is in DMU 452, which is within 487. Mandatory antler point restrictions on combination deer licenses were established during 2010 in an attempt increase the antlerless deer harvest in 487. One buck tag was restricted to deer with at least 3 points on one antler and the second was limited to bucks with a minimum of 4 points on an antler. Single buck tags could be used on deer with at least 3-inch antlers. To encourage hunters to shoot does, all deer tags in 487 were valid for antlerless deer.

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