Hunting season: How to get your deer tested for chronic wasting disease in Michigan

Hunters can get their deer tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD) for free in some parts of Michigan.

Deer heads will be tested as part of a five-year process of strategic, focused CWD surveillance.

Testing in 2021 will be offered for free in southern counties, including Allegan, Barry, Branch, Calhoun, Eaton, Gratiot, southern Isabella, Hillsdale, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lenawee, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Joseph, Washtenaw, and Wayne, as well as parts of Dickinson, Menominee, and Delta counties in the Upper Peninsula.

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Deer from Clinton, Dickinson, Ingham, Ionia, Kent, and Montcalm counties can be tested for CWD for free through the DNR from Nov. 15-18 only.

Free testing is available at DNR check stations. Find one here.

Deer harvested in other counties can also be tested as part of a Department of Natural Resources partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but there will be a cost. This fee will be set by the lab testing the animal. 

The Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Lab and the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab are both accepting CWD samples.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CWD is a prion disease that affects deer, elk, reindeer, sika deer, and moose. Sick animals may experience drastic weight loss, stumbling, listlessness, and other neurologic symptoms that can take up to a year to develop.

The CDC said there have been no reported CWD infections in humans, but studies have shown it poses a risk to some primates, leading to concerns humans could be at risk.

If you are having your deer tested, bring only the head. If you want to keep the antlers, remove them before but bring them with you so they can be measured. 

Be prepared to provide the location where the deer was harvested including the county, township, range, and section.