MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - A discovery in Dickinson County last month was not a surprise to hunters.
"It wasn’t a matter of if we are going to get CWD in the U.P., it was a matter of when it was going to hit," said Tony Demboski, the president of the U.P. Sportsman’s Alliance.
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) was found in a four-year-old doe, shot on a farm in Waucedah Township, about four miles from the Wisconsin border. Now the DNR is stepping up testing and surveillance to better understand where the disease exists.
"We are looking to get a statistically viable sample from the core surveillance area as well as management area," said John Pepin, the DNR deputy public information officer. "From the core area, we are looking to get a minimum of 600 heads and in the management are 300."
The core area is a 10-mile radius around Waucedah Township with the management area spreading into Marquette, Delta and Menominee counties.
"Wisconsin has shifted some of their surveillance efforts to sort of mirror our core surveillance area on the Wisconsin side of the border in Florence County," said Pepin.
The DNR says hunters should keep hunting in the CWD surveillance area, and get their deer heads checked and tested.
"You can visit a check station or you can enter your deer information online and drop the head in a box that’s there’s 24 hours," explained Pepin.
The heads are then sent to a disease lab where hunters will only be contacted if the deer is CWD positive.
"They will be able to get a replacement license for that CWD infected deer," clarified Pepin.
For now, the DNR says these deer checks are not mandatory, because of the great responses they are getting from the hunters.
"But if we weren’t able to get enough heads through hunter participation or road kills or deer damaging shooting permits, then in some point in the future it may become necessary,"warned Pepin.
Although CWD lingers in the air this hunting season, hunters say it won't stop them from the fall sport.
"It will be in the back of everyone’s mind obviously, but I don’t think it’s going to have much of an impact," said Randy Trudgeon, the President of U.P. Whitetails of Dickinson County. "It’s a family tradition, so 90 percent of people are still going to get out and do their yearly thing."
Hunters and the public can also report to the DNR if they see a dead or very sick dear.
For signs and symptoms of CWD and for additional information on the disease, click here.