Tag Archives: DOE

Deer CWD.

The first case of chronic wasting disease suspected in Jackson County

A doe carcass may be evidence of Jackson County’s first case of chronic wasting disease.


A healthy doe.
Image via Maxpixel.

State officials report that a 3-year-old doe in Jackson Country is suspected to have died from chronic wasting disease, a condition that creates the so-called “zombie deer”. If confirmed, this would be the first recorded case of the disease in the county.

Deerly departed

A press release from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that landowners in Spring Arbor Township contacted the agency earlier this month about a deer that died on their property. The deer looked ill, they said. DNR staff arrived at the location and examined the deer to determine the cause of its death. As part of the procedure, they sent three tissue samples to the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

Initial tests came out positive for the disease. The samples have since been forwarded to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) for confirmation. The DNR is currently waiting for the results. If confirmed, this will be the first recorded case of chronic waste disease in Jackson County.

“We are committed to maintaining healthy Michigan wildlife for current and future generations,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “One of our chief goals is to slow the spread of chronic wasting disease to other areas of the state.”

“That’s why we’ve taken strategic action, in partnership with local communities, hunters and others, to best address CWD in Michigan’s deer population.”

Chronic waste disease is very similar to the mad cow disease. It’s an incurable, fatal neurological condition that afflicts white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), mule deer (O. hemionus), elk (Cervus canadensis) and moose (Alces alces). During its early stages, the disease isn’t even outwardly evident — infected deer look just as perky as their healthy counterparts. Its later stages, however, are quite horrific; animals in these stages have been described as ‘zombies’, being sickishly thin, unalert, and unafraid of humans.

Deer CWD.

Deer showing obvious signs of chronic wasting disease.
Image credits Terry Kreeger / Wyoming Game and Fish and Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance.

Over 31,000 deer have been tested for the disease since May of 2015. Chronic wasting disease already has been confirmed in Clinton, Ingham, Ionia, Kent and Montcalm counties. If the NVSL confirms that we are looking at a case of chronic waste disease, this would mark the 58th recorded case in Michigan.

Although the case is not yet confirmed, deer farms in the area have already been notified to take extra precautions.

Alarmed by this possible spread of the disease, the DNR is asking for help from hunters and the wider public. If you see any deer that’s unusually thin and lethargic, with drooping ears and head, report the sighting to your local wildlife office or via this online form. Animals that are exhibiting unusual behavior — most notably those that act tame around people and let humans approach them — should also be reported.

Origami dollar.

US Senate says White House’s proposed DOE budget cuts are “short-sighted,” increases funding instead

Senate budget makers shut down the DOE research budget cuts proposed by the White House in May and left no room for interpretation as to why.

“The Committee definitively rejects this short-sighted proposal, and instead increases investment in this transformational program and directs the Department to continue to spend funds provided on research and development and program direction,” the Senate appropriations committee wrote in a report penned alongside a bill funding the Department of Energy.

Origami dollar.

Money well spent.
Image credits lukaswafl / Pixabay

We all know by now that the current U.S. administration has a bone to pick with certain fields of scientific pursuit. Back in May, that grudge materialized in some very drastic cuts to several of the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) basic and applied research programs. Among the White House’s list of undesirables for the new fiscal year (beginning 1st of October,) one could find the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), an 8-year-old agency which works to turn the most promising ideas from basic research into workable energy technologies. The ARPA-E was earmarked for complete shut-down under the new budget proposal.

That proposal went through the House of Representatives, but Senate appropriators shot it down as soon as they saw it. “The Committee definitively rejects this short-sighted proposal,” they write in their report, and would actually increase ARPA-E’s budget by 8% (to US$330 million.) The report also explicitly forbids the DOE from using monetary constraints to shut down the program.

The DOE’s Office of Science would also see its biological and environmental research (BER) budget gutted by 43% (down to US$349 million.) Similarly, the appropriations committee “rejects the short-sighted reductions proposed in the budget request” and would see BER funding increased by 3% (to US$630 million.)

Some areas, however, will see cuts. The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy’s applied research budget will see a 7% cut compared to last year, to US$1.937 billion. Still, that’s way more than what the White House proposed — only US$636 million. The Senate appropriations subcommittee on energy and water development would also cut 39% off fusion energy R&D (to US$232 million,) and discontinue the US’ involvement in the international fusion project, ITER, currently under construction in France.

Still, it’s good to see that the US will not readily surrender its long-term pursuit of science (especially pertaining to environmental sciences, which are now more desperately needed than ever) to appease a passing administration.

You can read the full report on the Senate’s appropriation committee’s website.