Linden — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has banned baiting due to the prevalence of chronic wasting disease (CWD), and Linden Councilor Pamela Howd is stressing that residents need to listen.
“There’s an epidemic in deer disease that’s been coming up through the last couple of years to the point that this year, baiting has been banned in the Lower Peninsula and in select areas in the Upper Peninsula,” she said at the Monday, Nov. 25 council meeting.
Howd works for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) as an environmental education specialist. She attended Central Michigan University and the University of Michigan, and has degrees in biological science with chemistry.
She’s an active runner and often walks with her son, when she sees possible baiting occur.
“We’ve noticed that some people are baiting in their backyards. Baiting is considered piling corn, feeders, there’s a lot of things that can be considered baiting,”
she said. “I think a lot of people are doing it out of maybe ignorance … they’re unaware of the problem but the problem is downright serious because one of the diseases, chronic wasting disease, is caused by something called a prion.”
Prions are a protein that can infect other deer and remain infectious in the environment for years. It affects the nervous system of infected animals, and it’s transmitted through direct animal-to-animal contact or by contact with saliva, urine, feces, blood, or carcass parts, according to the DNR.
CWD is fatal. Once an animal is infected, there is no recovery.
To date, there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans, but it’s not advised to consume an animal that has been infected.
Howd is worried about deer passing other diseases onto humans.
“The real worry with these diseases is that we could potentially get them,” she said.
CWD has been reported in Shiawassee County, just west of Genesee County. Approximately 133 deer have tested positive for CWD since 2015, according to the DNR.
“It’s coming our way. It’s just a matter of when. But we can take steps to prevent it,” she said.
Signs of CWD in deer include a thin or weak body, change in behavior such as loss of fear of humans, loss of bodily control or movements, and excessive drooling.
If you see a sick deer, document the location and call DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline at 1-800-292-7800.
“We want people to be healthy and there are a lot of elderly people in Linden who are susceptible to things,” Howd said. “I just think we need to be proactive and make it known that baiting is against the law. No feeding the deer or wild animals.”