Hunting season in Michigan
Every September, nearly 700,000 Michigan men and women are consumed with anticipation and preparation for the approaching deer hunting season. Hunting and fishing are multi-billion-dollar industries in our state and I proudly count myself among the ranks of Michiganders helping to support the economy through these activities. Michigan’s natural resources are to be treasured, and each year brings a renewed appreciation for the awesome responsibility we all have to preserve and protect those resources.
Unfortunately, this year brings additional challenges to both the health of our natural resources and the economy in the form of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a neurological disease found in deer and elk. Initially limited to a few states in the west, CWD has recently made its way east into Wisconsin, Illinois, and now Michigan. The disease attacks the brains of the infected animals and, once contracted, is 100 percent fatal.
Stopping the spread of CWD is difficult because the method of transmission of the disease is not fully understood. Recent studies, however, have shown that it is likely spread through direct animal to animal contact as well as indirectly through a contaminated environment, such as a common feeding area. Though CWD poses no known risks to humans, hunters are recommended to refrain from eating the meat of an infected animal.
Since the discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease in Michigan, my office has fielded numerous phone calls about the nature of the state’s response, specifically the decision by the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture to ban all feeding and baiting of deer and elk in the Lower Peninsula. As a fellow hunter and supporter of Michigan’s agricultural community, I fully understand their frustration. Many farmers rely on hunters to purchase their excess crops, and many hunters rely on feed piles to enhance their chances of harvesting a deer. Though it may seem extreme to institute a peninsula-wide ban in response to the discovery of a single case of CWD on a privately owned farm, we should be mindful of the costs, both financial and recreational, if the disease spreads throughout the state. Wildlife hunting and agriculture are $3 billion and $64 billion industries, respectively, in this state and the effects would be devastating.
I trust that the DNR and MDA will continue to have the best interests of these industries in mind as they move forward with their response plan. With patience and a strict adherence to the rules, I am confident of another successful season for Michigan’s outdoorsmen and women.
For more information on the 2008 deer hunting season, including dates and legislation important to hunters, please visit my website at: www.SenatorRandyRichardville.com.
Toll-Free: (866) 556-7917
Posted: Tuesday, September 23, 2008
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