Supplementary feeding of deer to encourage bigger horns, also had the effect of bringing them out of the woods to eat from molassed corn buckets, which could be shared by cattle. A voluntary ban on this practise was in place when the then Defra shadow MP Owen Paterson visited the state in 2005, to see for himself how such disease dynamics were handled.
In an update to this story, we learn that Michigan has made supplementary feeding illegal, and has also introduced a bounty on deer found to have bTB. The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development has announced an incentives program to encourage more Michigan hunters to have their deer tested for bovine tuberculosis.
"Under this new program, if a wild free-ranging, white-tailed deer harvested during the 2011 hunt is turned in for bovine TB testing, and it cultures positive, the hunter may apply for a $200 incentive," said MDARD Director Keith Creagh.
Bovine TB is a contagious bacterial disease of cattle that can affect other mammals, including humans. In 1994, a unique strain of bovine TB was identified in Michigan's free-ranging deer.
"MDARD recently announced 57 counties in Michigan's Lower Peninsula achieved bovine TB-free status; but there is still a pocket of bovine TB in deer that can be transmitted to cattle," Creagh said. "This new incentive program is one tool in our toolbox to help refine the footprint of the disease and protect Michigan's $9.2 billion beef and dairy industries."
"Some of the best hunting in the state is in Northeastern Lower Michigan," said State Sen. John Moolenaar (R-Midland). "Our wildlife enthusiasts can show they care about TB eradication, and at the same time, Michigan's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will reward them for removing disease from the landscape."
Under the Incentives Program:
Hunters must take the deer to a DNR check station.
They can have the antlers removed, but the head is submitted for testing.
DNR collects the heads from all the check stations and transports them to the Wildlife Disease Laboratory at Michigan State University's (MSU) Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health.
If the deer is confirmed to be TB infected, the hunter will receive routine test notification from the DNR laboratory which will include an Incentives Program contact number.
Notified hunters should contact MDARD with their confirmation code. A form will be mailed to the hunter's address for them to fill out and mail back for payment.
Upon receipt of the completed form, hunters will be mailed $200 for each TB-positive deer harvested.
Visit the Emerging Diseases web site for an all-positives map and additional information, including an advertisement about the incentives program; or to join the Michigan Animal Health LISTSERV: www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases.
Copyright 2011 WNEM. All Rights Reserved.
Link to more information on bTB in Michigan's white tailed deer is on this site.
The picture (from the site) shows tuberculous abscesses on the lungs of a deer.