Leadership, CWD, EHD and Machetes

by Anna Mitterling, Wildlife Cooperative Coordinator, MUCC

The last several days have been different than my “usual” week, in that I was at the Great Lakes Leadership Academy the majority of last week. This has been an incredible opportunity for me to connect with other developing leaders in the Natural Resources community, as we come together to grow and develop intentionally as leaders in our areas of influence. It has been a time full of developing facilitation tools, learning more about relating with individuals with personality temperaments similar and different to my own, and improving my communication capabilities. I am grateful for the financial support of MUCC, QDMA, and PF - as well as some partners with the Leadership Academy - to fund this investment in my future - and in turn, yours!

On top of the Leadership Academy, I joined Sonja Christensen on one of her data collection nights working with the Maple River Cooperative as they conducted their weekly deer survey around the Maple River Area. This area was drastically affected by the EHD outbreak a few years ago, and is a site that is being compared to a similar location in the Thumb that has not been affected by EHD. I had the honor of riding with Cooperative Leader and member Leo and Chris for our fifteen mile transect looking for, and counting, deer. I was able to learn more of the struggle of watching your deer numbers plummet from deer disease, and the pleasure of watching the numbers slowly build back up. It does take a few years, but recovery from EHD is realistic.

The heart breaking component for me to look at, was talking about CWD with Leo and Chris. While their deer population is still showing the effects of EHD, they now have CWD to contend with too. We discussed the differences in the diseases, and the greater longer impacts of a prevalent CWD population. This conversation is much more difficult in this context, seeing how the hunting and visibility of deer was hit hard, and recovery feel slow, and now they are faced with a disease that has incredible long term consequences, but very little instant effect - other than changes in hunting regulations and the need to collect data to understand the scope of the disease spread.

To understand more about CWD vs EHD, please feel free to checkout Growing Deer TV as Grant Woods explains the differences in these two diseases: See video here.

The latest DNR press release on CWD updates can be found here.

You may wonder what machetes have to do with leadership or deer disease… not much of anything! Other than after a week of self introspection and evaluation, and carrying the weight of the complexities and impact of deer disease - taking out several dozen thistle plants with a machete is extremely rewarding. I highly recommend it! In short, if you are struggling with being the best cooperative leader you can be, and you have been thinking too much about deer diseases, grab your machete, and take out some thistles. It will benefit you and wildlife habitat!

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