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January 23, 2004 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-01-23

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, January 23, 2004


"Generally TB doesn't affect the deer herd in a
negative way - it affects the trading capability of
the livestock industry."
- Bridget Patrick
Bovine Tuberculosis Eradication Coordinator,
Michigan Department of Community Health





Above: Hunters gather around a buck pole in Brooklyn, Mich., on opening day as part of Knutson's 16th
Annual Buck Pole Contest. Money is awarded to the owners of the heaviest buck and the largest rack.

Above: Hunting
enthusiasts wait
for their turn at
the scale during
Knutson's Buck
Pole Contest.
There are 1.8
million wild deer
in the state. The
800,000 hunters
who annually try
their hand at the
Michigan deer
herd typically
harvest about
550,000 animals.
Left: Severed deer
heads line the
cement floor of
the Michigan
an Department of
Resources Deer
Head Facility In
East Lansing.
These specimens
are awaiting a
test for chronic
wasting disease,
a sickness similar
to mad cow
disease in cattle.
The skinned head
In the middle had
its fur removed by
a hunter, who
used the fur for a
taxidermy wall


Michigan faces public health
challenge with white-tailed deer
Photo story by Seth Lower m Daily Photo Editor

home last November, the heads
A s hunters transported their kills
of their deer that were collected
at highway check stations
located throughout the state. In response to
concerns over bovine tuberculosis and its
effect on Michigan deer, the Michigan
Department of Natural Resources asks
hunters to voluntarily leave their deer
heads at the checkpoints, especially if they
hunt in the northeast part of the Lower
Peninsula. The so-called core area of the
bovine TB problem, centered in Alcona,
Alpena, Montmorency and Oscoda coun-
ties, has been the focus of much political
Bovine tuberculosis, an infectious dis-
ease found in white-tailed deer, elk, and
domestic livestock, has been a problem
since the 19th century when it was intro-
duced by European cattle.
According to DNR records, TB was the
leading cause of death in humans in 1917.
The outbreak was initially brought about
by people drinking raw milk from infected
cows. Before 1994 there were very few
known cases of infected deer, but since
then, nearly 500 deer heads have tested
positive for bovine TB in Michigan. Last
fall, 28 deer heads tested positive, most of
which were collected in the core area of
the state.
Although other states have seen prob-
lems with the disease in livestock, Michi-
gan is the only place where wildlife have
endemically contracted bovine TB.
In an effort to understand and control the
spread of the disease, then-Gov. John
Engler enacted the Michigan Bovine
Tuberculosis Eradication Project in 1998.
The project includes the help of experts
from the Michigan departments of Agricul-
ture, Community Health, and Natural
Resources, as well as Michigan State Uni-
versity and the U.S. Department of Agri-
From ihe highway check stations, deer

lesions characteristic of bovine TB. If sus-
picious samples are found, they are sent to
the pathology lab at MSU for further test-
"The first concern is public health," said
Bridget Patrick, a bovine TB eradication
coordinator for the MDCH. "The second is
the economic viability of both the live-
stock industry and travel and tourism."
Because of modern pasteurization and
meat inspection laws, humans are not par-
ticularly at risk for contracting the disease.
But because livestock often share fence
lines with wild deer, there is a high risk of
cattle becoming infected by common feed-
ing grounds.
"It directly impacts the cattle industry
and their ability to market livestock,"
Patrick added. Because the state has a
presence of bovine TB, other states and
countries may be hesitant to trade freely, or
to participate in cattle breeding or show-
Public opinion is also a major concern
when it comes to tourism; if hunters fear
the disease, the economy of northern
Michigan may suffer. There were nearly
fifty thousand fewer hunters in the core
area of the state this year.
A study by the Michigan Travel,
Tourism, and Recreation Center at MSU
suggests that the affected parts of northern
Michigan lose $25 million annually in
hunting related income alone.
In an effort to stop inter-animal contami-
nation, the use of food or bait piles larger
than two gallons has been banned through-
out the state. Even farmers are required to
remove hay and food piles from their
Scientists at Michigan State are also
checking for chronic wasting disease, a
disease similar in deer to mad cow disease
in cattle and scrapie in sheep.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed an exec-
utive order last year that created a task
force to monitor CWD among the wild
deer population.
Research indicates cannot be transmitted

Left: A deer's
teeth are
checked for age
while undergoing
a test for bovine
TB at the Deer
Head Facility.
Right: Julie
Rose, a techni-
cian for the
DNR, weighs a
lymph gland at
the Deer Head
Facility. The
sampled gland
must be a cer-
tain weight to-
undergo the
ELISA test for
chronic wasting
Below: Steven
Schmitt, State
Wildlife Veteri-
narian for the
state DNR,
checks the
lymph gland of a
deer at the Deer
Head Facility.

"The first concern is public health."
- Bridget Patrick
Bovine Tuberculosis Eradication Coordinator,
Michigan Department of Community Health


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