Hunters unhappy with state's CWD efforts

Posted: 8:33 AM, Dec 01, 2015
Updated: 2015-12-01 08:33:36-05

The Department of Natural Resources has spent months fighting chronic wasting disease.

"If we think that there's a chance to eradicate it, we're certainly going to make every effort to do so," said Chad Stewart, deer management specialist from the DNR.

Three out of more than three thousand deer tested since May had the disease, which is frustrating for hunters like George Hunt.

"You're gonna go out and just murder the deer herd to find three or four cases, it doesn't make a lot of sense," Hunt said Monday. He thinks a few sick deer won't affect the herd long term.

"If there is a real disease problem I'd be behind them 100%," Hunt said. "But to kill over a thousand deer to get three cases? I don't consider that a real problem."

But the DNR says it's just the opposite.

A fourth deer believed to have the disease was found two weeks ago, eight miles away from the others.

So Stewart thinks, there are more out there.

"We're really hoping that we can find those and get them out before they infect other deer," Stewart said. "That's where the big concern with the disease is."

And if it spreads, the whole herd could be infected, and start dying off.

The hunting industry accounts for about $2.3 billion of Michigan's state income, which could take a big hit if the DNR find any more deer with the disease.

"You're never going to make everyone happy," said Lt. Ken Plaga from Meridian Township Police, who's been working with the state from the beginning

He's talked to plenty of hunters who are frustrated, but he thinks the state's actions are justified.

"By ensuring that there is not a widespread infestation or infection of chronic wasting disease among the deer population, we're really doing a service to the deer population," Lt. Plaga said.

But hunters like George Hunt are just hoping there will still be a deer population left to hunt after this year.