Zorn works to guard against chronic wasting disease

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn announced the passage of legislation to protect Michigan from chronic wasting disease and honor the memory of Rep. John Kivela.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a neurological disease found in deer, elk and moose. The disease attacks the brains of infected animals and produces small lesions that result in death. A deer can live with CWD for years and spread it through contact with other animals.

“Chronic wasting disease is an issue that weighs heavy on the minds of sportsmen and women throughout Michigan and is especially important to the hunters in my district,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “I sponsored legislation in the Senate to guard against exposing our Michigan deer population to CWD brought in from out-of-state sources. Representative Kivela also understood the impact of this disease on Michigan’s white-tailed deer population and sponsored legislation in the House to address the problem.

“He knew, as I do, the devastating effect this disease can have on our tourism industry, our economy and our rich outdoor tradition. Our joint interest is proof that this issue is on people’s minds from the Upper Peninsula all the way down to Southeast Michigan.”

Zorn sponsored Senate Bill 211, which would prohibit hunters from bringing certain parts of an animal carcass into Michigan from out of state and increase the penalties for violation of the law.

Kivela, D-Marquette, sponsored House Bill 4424, which mirrors Zorn’s bill. The Senate passed HB 4424 on Tuesday in tribute to Kivela, who died earlier in the month.

HB 4424 is specific in its scope and provides exemptions for certain carcass parts that do not pose a risk, including hides; deboned meat, quarters or other parts of the animal that do not have any part of the spinal column or head attached; finished taxidermy products; cleaned teeth; antlers; and antlers attached to a skullcap cleaned of brain and muscle tissue.

“I have traveled around Monroe and Lenawee counties and heard from many concerned citizens who want to see the state increase its efforts to combat CWD. This legislation preserves the health of our wild game population and supports Michigan sportsmen,” Zorn said. “It has been an honor to have worked on this issue with conservationists and to provide language in House Bill 4424 that preserves the legacy of Representative Kivela. Together, we are part of protecting the hunting heritage for all of Michigan.”

A total of 24 states and two Canadian provinces have found CWD in both free-ranging and captive deer, elk and moose. In Michigan, a total of 11 captive and wild deer have tested positive for CWD since 2015.

HB 4424 now heads to the governor for consideration.