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State urges hunters to help keep deer disease out of UP

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has launched an education campaign to try to keep chronic wasting disease from spreading to the Upper Peninsula.

The disease affects the central nervous system and is always fatal to white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, and moose, according to the DNR. And there is no known treatment.  

The DNR is using billboards, bumper stickers, news broadcasts, public lectures, fact sheets and websites to inform the public about how to prevent CWD from reaching the Upper Peninsula. The DNR especially wants to educate hunters to keep them from bringing infected deer to the Upper Peninsula from other places, according to DNR spokesman John Pepin.

"Like the billboard says, 'Know the facts and know the rules,'" said Pepin. "Know the rules about bringing deer back in and know the facts about CWD, how it's spread."

"We're saying that if you hunt in states or provinces that have CWD, that you can only bring certain parts of the deer back into Michigan," Pepin said.

According to the DNR, the disease was discovered earlier this year in free-ranging deer in Ingham County in the Lower Peninsula. Confirmed cases have been found in 23 states and two Canadian provinces, with CWD cases in Wisconsin only about 70 miles from the Upper Peninsula.  

There are no known CWD health risks to humans, according to the DNR.

The DNR reports that hunting generates more than $2.3 billion annually to Michigan's economy, so keeping the deer population healthy is critical to the state's economy.