About The Author

Kim Hiss, an associate editor at Field & Stream, has hunted ducks, antelope, turkeys, and deer throughout the country, enjoying a number of women's hunts along the way. She lives in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Click here to email Kim.

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August 27, 2008

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Test Positive

     It seems worth asking again: how much do you worry about CWD? If you're in Michigan, the topic is certainly on your mind at the moment.
     After a 3-year-old doe at a Kent County captive breeding facility tested positive for the disease, the state's DNR has quarantined 580 deer and elk farms and banned baiting in the Lower Peninsula. According to this Grand Rapids Press story, the impact of such measures varies depending on who you talk to -- but everyone is feeling the effects.
     If you're a breeder, of course, the news couldn't be worse. "If you get it at your facility, it's terminal," Alex Draper, president of the Michigan Deer & Elk Association of Breeders told the paper. "The herd is terminated, and you are out of business."
     As for area hunters, the ban on baiting has drawn a number of angry phone calls to the DNR from sportsmen disagreeing with the move. But officials point out that CWD is easily spread in areas where deer congregate, so the ban is a necessary step. And I'm sure most area hunters understand the importance of containment.
     Then there's the meat processors, such as a Big Rapids business that typically donates 16,000 pounds of venison each year to the Sportsmen Against Hunger program. Kelly's Catering and Deer Processing expected to start receiving deer by Sept. 4, but now its owner wonders how much meat he'll be able to provide to local pantries.
     DNR officials are currently reviewing the records of six breeding facilities, and tracing the transport of deer between them. They also plan to test 300 wild deer in the area. A DNR spokesperson called the department's activities to determine the level of contamination, "a big detective job."
     Personally, I find the topic of CWD fascinating (though, of course, not in a good way). It's such a complex issue. There's the biology of a degenerative disease, its frightening spread through sometimes shady business dealings among deer facilities, and the complicated bureaucracy of containing it. Not to mention the fact that the prions responsible for the disease just don't go away -- once they're in the soil, long term contamination is a major issue. The whole thing feels a bit like a sleeper epidemic. It goes through periods of seeming inactivity, before erupting into a very real chain of problems that affects every segment of the deer hunting community. -K.H.


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I don't worry about CWD here in Alabama....and I wish we could hunt over corn, but I understand the reasons behind the law. I called DNR in Richmond, Va. to ask about my parents being able to "feed" the deer where they live in SW Virginia.....they are in their 80's and no longer hunt, but love watching the deer in thier pasture. They have been putting out corn for them for several years, and now they're unable to do so because of the law. The lady at DNR empathised with their situation, but then explained the reasons for not feeding them....CWD and others. Bottom line is.....you'll be ticketed if you're caught feeding them. I suggested planting a fall food plot in that pasture....just so they can continue to watch the deer.

charles slusser

CORRECT ME IF i MISSED SOMETHING BUT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT ONE DOE... iF THE DEER IS IN AN ENCLOSURE, with other deer and this one doe is tested positive should there not be more deer that are positive..the experts want to shoot an additional 300 wild deer. What is that a random number, off the top of there heads(DNR) you are talking about 880 deer killed for there brains for testing, you can not test live deer... what a waist. living here in the WEST where baiting has been baned for many years,I have hunted the WEST for my entire 50+ years of hunting and cannot remember baiting ever being legal, there are some rather heated opions about food plots being bait. we hunters here in washington have had our hands full fighting to be able to hunt within one mile of any food crop that would attract wildlife fur or feather.

Walt Smith

I am a landowner (70 acres) who lives in Michigan, has hunted deer since I was 14 (32years), hunt where I live(Isabella county) and I hunt at my cabin(Iron county) and I view the baiting ban as such;I have no problem with it except one. I feel that it should be extended to food plots also. There are those who will argue that food plots are different but I feel that they are just pi**ing into the wind in order to keep their form of BAITING. You can argue all day long but the truth is that they are one and the same except food plots cover way more ground and attract way more deer into a concetrated area. I own 70 acres and I have no food plots. I hunt deer the old fashoned way, runways,natural mast crops (acorns, beechnuts persimmon), and escape routes. You do not need bait to take deer just common sense and tactics. If you do not plant food plots to attract deer ,why do you plant them?? If you're gonna lie please do it quickly. Do away with baiting(ALL OF IT), Do away with high fence operations (Where this all started) and save our states NATURAL HERD for all of its law abiding hunters.