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DNR: Dying deer a mystery

State running tests for cause of about 20 deaths in a three-week period along Clinton River.

Shawn D. Lewis / The Detroit News

ROCHESTER -- Deer are dying along the Clinton River, and the state Department of Natural Resources doesn't know why. About 20 deer died in a three-week period along a six-mile stretch of the river in Bloomer Park in Rochester. Initial tests by the DNR's Wildlife Disease Lab show the deer did not have chronic wasting disease or eastern equine encephalitis, two diseases common in Michigan.

"We don't yet know why the deer are dying," said DNR spokeswoman Mary Dettloff. "We've sent some of the stomach contents and tissue samples to the lab at Michigan State."

That lab is the Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health.

Dettloff said the public should be aware of the situation, and the DNR wants to know if other deer are dying in the area.

"If there is more significant die-off, we want to know about it, and people should contact the nearest DNR operations service center," she said. In Oakland County, the nearest center is in Southfield and can be reached at (248) 359-9040.

Barry Anderson, an active hunter from West Bloomfield, said he's never heard of anything like this.

"The Clinton River has been a cesspool over the years, with all sorts of E. coli bacteria in there," said Anderson. "They've closed parts of the river before because of it. It might be that, or it could be from the chemicals from nearby farmland."

Dettloff said people should not be concerned for their own health at this point.

"We wouldn't advise anyone to try to bring the deer in to the DNR, but we don't think human beings should have any fears," she said.

The DNR also confirmed the state's first case of chronic wasting disease earlier in the week. It was found in a 3-year-old white-tailed deer from a privately owned cervid facility in Kent County. A cervid is a hoofed animal of the Cervidae family, which includes deer and elk.

The state has quarantined all such facilities, prohibiting the movement of all privately owned deer, elk or moose -- dead or alive. Officials still don't know how the deer may have contracted the disease, but say there is no evidence it presents a risk to humans.

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Interesting. First she says CWD is one of two diseases common in Michigan and in another paragraph says the first case of CWD was just found in Kent County. :dizzy::dizzy: Hopefully the DNR puts out a press release on this issue once any information is found so that we can get some reliable reporting on the issue.
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