LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Officials say a fourth case of chronic wasting disease may have been detected in southern Michigan deer.

The Department of Natural Resources says a hunter from Dewitt Township in Clinton County brought the deer to the Rose Lake check station this week. Preliminary testing suggests the year-and-a-half-old buck may have had the fatal illness. A sample has been sent to a federal laboratory for a final assessment.

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Three other infected free-ranging deer have tested positive for chronic wasting disease. All were from Ingham County.

The DNR has designated a “core chronic wasting disease area” consisting of nine townships in Ingham, Clinton and Shiawassee counties. Hunters who kill deer in that area are required to have them tested.

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Chronic wasting disease affects the central nervous system and is fatal to white-tail deer, mule deer, elk and moose. There is no known treatment.

Firearm hunting season begins Sunday across Michigan and runs through the end of the month. More than 540,000 hunters are expected to take part.

“Deer hunting is an iconic and defining Michigan tradition,” DNR Director Keith Creagh said in a statement. “Whether harvesting a big buck in the woods or just spending time at camp, the deer season offers one more great way for people to experience Michigan’s world-class natural resources while connecting with family and friends. We hope hunters throughout the state have a safe and successful season.”

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