My initial reaction was to laugh when I heard 2017 PA 124 made it a misdemeanor to bring a dead deer into Michigan. I could not imagine what motivated the legislature to regulate deer carcasses. The act actually prohibits bringing a cervid carcass into the state. According to dictionary.com, a cervid is a deer, caribou, elk, or moose.
The act says you can bring in a hide, deboned meat, quarters, or other parts of a cervid carcass as long as they do not have a spinal column or head attached. There is also an exception for finished taxidermy products such as cleaned teeth, antlers, or antlers attached to a skullcap cleaned of brain and muscle tissue. But no more proudly displaying your trophy deer on your hood as you motor into Michigan.
A review of the legislative bill analysis ended my chuckling. The act is meant to slow the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) among the deer population in Michigan. It is believed that deer can contract CWD from eating plants from contaminated soil. CWD’s symptoms may not appear for four or five years and include emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions, and death. The only way to detect CWD is to examine the deer’s brain. It is impossible, therefore, to know how many deer in an area are infected. CWD has been confirmed in 24 states and two Canadian provinces. It was first detected in a free-ranging doe in Ingham County, Michigan, in 2015. There have been nine CWD-positive deer confirmed in Michigan.
Of course, there is an economic motivation behind 2017 PA 124. Michigan’s hunter participation ranks third in the nation. It is estimated that the annual deer hunting season contributes $2.3 billion to Michigan’s economy. The economic ripple effect is said to be $3.9 billion annually. A widely infected or declining deer population would obviously diminish that ripple.
Personally, I’m more concerned about continuing to see pictures like these from my family farm.