LANSING, Mich. – Deer hunters should expect changes to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources deer check stations this fall.
There will be a reduction in check stations and drop box locations, dates, hours operated and the number of deer heads that will be accepted for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) testing, according to the DNR.
The changes are due to staffing and financial shortages because of the coronavirus pandemic. Hunters will be required to wear masks and following social distancing guidelines at DNR deer check stations. At many check stations, hunters will be required to stay in their vehicles while their deer is checked.
“It is an unprecedented time in our state’s history, with serious challenges that affect everyone. We ask for your patience and grace as we adapt to meet these challenges,” said acting DNR Wildlife Division Chief Dan Kennedy. “Michigan hunters have a long history of partnering with the DNR for the benefit and health of the state’s deer population. Let’s continue working together to protect public health, too.”
In parts of the state where CWD and bovine tuberculosis (TB) samples are needed, check stations and drop boxes will be available starting on Oct. 3 and continuing into December and January.
Since the DNR can’t test the same volume of deer heads as in the past, the department will prioritize gathering deer heads from known CWD areas.
Deer heads from southern Jackson, southern Isabella and western Gratiot counties and from the core CWD surveillance area in the Upper Peninsula (portions of Delta, Dickinson and Menominee counties) will be accepted for CWD testing from Oct. 3 to Jan. 4.
Deer heads from Clinton, Dickinson, Eaton, Gratiot, Ingham, Ionia, Jackson, Kent and Montcalm counties will be accepted for testing Nov. 15-18 only. USDA-approved lab testing is also available for hunters in these areas at any time.
Hunters in other parts of the state who want their deer tested for CWD must submit their deer head to a USDA-approved lab for testing and will be charged a fee.
Carcasses from deer with symptoms of CWD will be tested no matter where they were killed.
Deer will continue to be collected for annual TB surveillance in DMU 487 (Alcona, Alpena, Iosco, Montmorency, Oscoda and Presque Isle counties). TB tests also will be conducted in Cheboygan, Crawford, Ogemaw, Otsego and Roscommon counties, as well as parts of Allegan, Barry, Calhoun, Emmet, Kalamazoo, Ottawa and Saginaw counties as part of the state’s agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Hunters who want disease testing are asked to bring only deer heads to check stations by removing them ahead of time. Hunters who would like to keep the antlers are asked to remove them from the head but bring them so antler measurements can be taken.