NADeFA Commends Michigan’s Response to Recent CWD Case

CANTON, Ohio — The North American Deer Farmers Association (NADeFA), the nation’s leading voice for the cervid industry, commends Michigan’s measured and responsible response to the state’s first case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a free-ranging whitetail deer. The Michigan departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) are working closely with privately-owned cervid facilities and the United Deer Farmers of Michigan for ongoing compliance with the state’s CWD testing program.

Michigan officials recently confirmed a free-ranging deer in Meridian Township (Ingham County) tested positive for CWD, a fatal neurological disease that affects whitetail deer, mule deer, elk and moose. This is the first time the disease has been found in Michigan’s free-ranging deer population. Previously, Michigan’s only case of CWD occurred in 2008 during which a whitetail deer from a farm in Kent County tested positive. In that case, the entire privately owned herd was depopulated, and all the animals were tested afterwards with no other positive deer found. Since 2008, stringent regulations and testing procedures have ensured that privately owned herds are having no negative impact on the free-ranging deer population.

“We would like to recognize Michigan’s departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture and Rural Development for their professional response to the recent case of CWD,” says Shawn Schafer, executive director of NADeFA. “Since CWD was discovered in a wild elk more than 30 years ago, there have been several so-called experts and anti-hunting groups that have used CWD to generate fear among hunters and the general public, particularly when it comes to farm-raised cervids. Of course, the truth is that CWD has been known to exist in both wild and managed environments for decades, and NADeFA and Michigan’s individual deer farmers remain dedicated to assist state agencies manage and prevent disease.”

According to USDA reports and related research, an infected deer can carry CWD for many years without showing symptoms, thus expanding the range of possible infection in the wild. CWD can also be transmitted by crows and small varmints, and unwittingly spread by hunters transporting infected deer carcasses and heads for the taxidermy trade. Recent research shows that CWD can be transmitted through plants as well.

NADeFA, as well as state cervid associations, are strongly dedicated to being efficient and proactive on issues of disease prevention and management, just as are other agriculture-based industries. In fact, NADeFA spearheaded the effort to establish the current Federal CWD Certification Program and NADeFA, in conjunction with the Cervid Livestock Foundation, has sponsored numerous research projects to enhance disease diagnosis and prevention. Most recently, NADeFA sponsored research at Kansas State University to develop an all-new ‘live test’ to help detect the CWD earlier, increase efficiency for deer farming operations, and prevent the needless deaths of thousands of animals which are merely suspected of having the disease.

Founded in 1983, the North American Deer Farmers Association is dedicated to the promotion of deer farming and ranching as an agricultural pursuit and serves its members through its educational programs and publications and by providing leadership in setting and maintaining quality standards. NADeFA represents the deer farming industry at all levels of government, and works closely with livestock producers and other organizations to promote ethical standards of conduct and husbandry in deer farming and to actively market standards for deer and deer products. NADeFA representatives are also available to media for expert testimony and information about deer farming and animal health issues, such as Chronic Wasting Disease, EHD and other topics.

For more information about NADeFA programs and membership, call 330.454.3944 or visit

Since 1983, the North American Deer Farmers Association (NADeFA) has worked to establish and promote deer farming as an agricultural pursuit and to facilitate education on breeding, handling and deer farm management. For more information on the North American Deer Farmers Association, call 330.454.3944 or visit