PLAINWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — Oct. 1 marks the opening day of archery season for deer in Michigan. It means hunters will flock to the woods from dawn to dusk in search of their trophy buck.
Those times happen to also be when people are most likely to be bitten by mosquitos.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources urges hunters taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to acknowledge the risks of Eastern Equine Encephalitis and take necessary precautions.
DNR Disease Pathologist Tom Cooley says the department has set up their usual testing centers to track chronic wasting disease as well as deer with EEE.
“Deer infected with EEE cannot be tested the same as we would test other diseases like CWD,” Cooley said. “In general, if you see a deer that is acting strangely, it’s a good idea to give us a call.”
Infected deer won’t appear any different, visually, to the hunter. However, they will act strangely, lethargic or even unafraid of people.
If you see a deer like that, the DNR asks you to call your local DNR office so they can get it tested.
The department has confirmed 13 EEE infected deer in nine counties. In West Michigan, those include Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo and Kent counties.
Cooley says if you happen to ingest infected deer meat, you aren’t at any increase risk.
“Hunters should still take their normal precautionary measures like wearing gloves when preparing a deer,” Cooley said. “They should also avoid severing the spinal cord or brain if possible.”
Hunters are encouraged to wear bug spray while hunting, especially during the unseasonably warm temperatures to start the month of October.
The department says the real risk of EEE infection presents itself by having more people in the woods during peak mosquito times like dawn and dusk.
If you have any questions or concerns, you’re encouraged to reach out to your local field office.