As a part of a joint wildlife disease initiative, Michigan State University and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are seeking grant proposals for collaborative research, education and outreach projects to address the most important issues around wildlife disease in Michigan, especially chronic wasting disease in deer.
“Michigan is not alone in this fight against CWD; many other states are trying to better understand these same issues,” said DNR Wildlife Chief Russ Mason. “Collaboration with other states and agencies that leverages available data, knowledge and programming to advance the rate of discovery and impact of work is encouraged.”
CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects cervids (deer, elk and moose). It causes a degeneration of the brain resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and death. It is caused by a normal protein, called a prion, that folds incorrectly and can infect other cervids. It can be transmitted directly from one animal to another and indirectly through the environment. Prions are extremely persistent in the environment and can stay infectious for years.
Since May 2015, when the first free-ranging, CWD-positive deer was found in Michigan, the disease has been confirmed in free-ranging deer in the Lower Peninsula from Clinton, Eaton, Gratiot, Ingham, Ionia, Jackson, Kent and Montcalm counties. Another was found in the Upper Peninsula in Dickinson County in October 2018.
The agencies also are seeking proposals for research on CWD prion behavior and persistence in the environment; development of new detection and testing methods, such as rapid tests and field and live animal tests; development and delivery of innovative educational materials to inform natural resources managers and citizens about CWD; and multi-institutional collaborations.
“MSU and the DNR are collaborating to address wildlife diseases in the state by seeking the best partners across the nation to provide critical research,” said Doug Buhler, director of MSU AgBioResearch. “We are looking to more thoroughly understand CWD transmission, spread and prevention, and the impact of the disease on deer survival and long-term population growth.”