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Incentives Program - Get Your Deer Head Checked!The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) started an education campaign in the Fall of 2011 to encourage hunters, especially those hunting in DMU 452 and Northeastern Lower Michigan, to stop at deer check stations and ask to have their animal tested for bovine TB.
An advertisement ran in the November/December 2011, issue of Michigan Out-of-Doors; and, a radio message was aired on talk radio (WJR) during the morning drive two weeks before the October 1st, 2011 Archery Season; and in November 2011, two weeks before the Firearm Season. There was also a billboard on I-75 south of Standish in October and November, 2012.
By offering $200 for deer that culture TB positive, MDARD encouraged hunters to turn their white-tailed deer in for testing. The actual time from harvest to confirming a TB positive animal sometimes took up to 12 weeks (bovine TB grows very slowly in culture medium).
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q.1. Did the Incentives Program affect the 2012 deer hunting season?
A. The Incentive Program did not influence any decisions the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) made regarding the deer harvest.
Q.2. Were hunter license fees used for the Incentives Program?
A. No, the program was funded and coordinated by MDARD.
Q.3. Why should a hunter care about bovine TB?
A. Bovine TB is an incurable infectious disease that affects many mammals, including white-tailed deer. Deer can get sick and die from bovine TB. Our goal as hunters should be to promote and protect the health of Michigan's deer herd.
Q.4. What does a TB positive deer look like?
A.. While most deer infected with bovine TB look and act like normal deer, testing in the laboratory is the only way to confirm TB infection. Because infected deer usually look normal it is very important to turn all heads in for testing.
Q.5. Why does the DNR want to have heads checked?
A.. Testing hunter harvested deer for TB is the best way for the State of Michigan to keep track of how much TB is present in the deer population, to determine if the disease is spreading geographically, and to assess the risk for transmission of TB to livestock and people. Testing hunter harvested deer for TB also enables DNR to assess the health of the deer herd.
Q.6. Do all deer heads submitted get tested?
A. All deer heads are examined. Samples from deer heads with abnormalities in the lymph nodes are submitted for further testing.
Q.7. How was my privacy protected when I turned in a deer head at a check station?
A. There were no changes in the way your personal information was handled. While the Incentives Program was MDARD's, information routinely collected by DNR staff at deer check stations was not made available to MDARD or anyone else. Routine information collected by DNR staff, including your name, address and phone number, was not made available to anyone. If your deer was confirmed to be TB infected, you received routine test notification from the DNR laboratory. In the routine notification from the DNR you were given a contact phone number for the Incentive Program. It was up to you to contact MDARD to obtain your incentive check. Although the Incentives Program is closed and no further funding is available at this time, hunters are encouraged to continue having their deer tested for bovine TB.
Q.8. What have livestock farmers done to prevent their cattle from interacting with deer?
A. Wildlife risk mitigation is designed to prevent interaction between deer and cattle and keep deer away from cattle and cattle feed. Each farm in the TB area has developed and adopted wildlife risk mitigation strategies. Some producers have had to spend thousands of dollars in order to implement their farm's wildlife risk mitigation plan.
State zoning regulations are such that cattle from farms without wildlife risk mitigation tools in place require additional TB testing after they are sold, at the new owner's expense. This post-movement TB test makes cattle from non-mitigated farms less attractive in the market place.
Q.9. If the deer is found to be infected with bovine TB, can I still eat the meat?
A. Although TB bacteria are killed when cooked at 165 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds, the Michigan Department of Community Health recommends people not consume meat from a deer confirmed to be infected with bovine TB.
Q.10. What do I do with my deer head if the check station is closed?
A. You may turn in your deer head for testing at any check station in Michigan. Heads can be frozen if necessary. If you need to travel home, find the nearest check station the next day and turn the head in. Check station staff/volunteers will ask you for the coordinates (location) where the deer was harvested.
Q.11. Can I keep the antlers?
A. You may ask to have the rack removed at a deer check station or you can remove the antlers before taking the head to check station.
Q.12. What do I do if I want a full head mount?
A. Check station staff can fill out a TB testing tag for you to take with you to the taxidermist. Once you have a tag filled out, you can get the head from the taxidermist, tag it, and drop it off at a check station OR one of the drop boxes we have at field offices.
Q.13 I have all the venison I need, is there a place to donate my extra meat?
A. Sportsmen Against Hunger will have locations throughout the state for collection purposes. Go to: www.sportsmenagainsthunger.org for a list of participating processors in Michigan.
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