No additional deer test positive for CWD in southeastern Minnesota

DNR asks deer hunters to use head boxes in Lanesboro, Preston, Chatfield, Harmony

No additional deer have tested positive for chronic wasting disease from samples collected this fall in southeastern Minnesota, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Nearly one-third of all deer harvested during southeastern Minnesota’s first firearms deer season and the first three days of the second season were tested for CWD. Only two of the 2,866 deer tested returned positive results. Both were harvested about 1 mile apart west of Lanesboro in deer permit area 348.

“This was an extensive surveillance effort,” said Dr. Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the DNR. “While we’re disappointed we found two positive deer, we remain optimistic the infection is localized and not widespread throughout the southeast.”

The DNR now is planning and implementing its CWD response plan, which will include a December public meeting announcing the response plan details and continued opportunities for hunters in permit areas 347 and 348 to have their harvested deer tested.

Hunters can get a simple form, complete it and place it – along with the head of a harvested deer – in boxes located at the:

  • Preston forestry office, 912 Houston St., Preston.
  • Lanesboro fisheries office, 23785 Grosbeak Road., Lanesboro.
  • Magnum Sports, 20 Main St. S., Chatfield.
  • Oak Meadow Meats, 50 9th St., Harmony.

Samples are submitted for testing weekly. Test results become available the following week. Hunters will only be notified if a deer tests positive for CWD.

Instructions on how to use the head boxes are at the boxes and available on the DNR’s CWD homepage.

“The DNR is in the process of developing more specific CWD management actions,” Cornicelli said. “We will engage and fully inform the affected communities – particularly landowners – as we develop and implement quick and aggressive response actions that can limit the spread of the disease.”

CWD is a fatal brain disease to deer, elk and moose but is not known to affect human health. Prior to this discovery, the disease was only found in a single other wild deer harvested near Pine Island in 2010.

The DNR discovered the two infected deer during this fall’s enhanced CWD surveillance program, which was initiated because the region abuts Wisconsin and northeastern Iowa. Wisconsin has 43 counties affected by CWD and the disease has been detected in northeastern Iowa’s Allamakee County.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the World Health Organization have found no scientific evidence that the disease presents a health risk to humans who come in contact with infected animals or eat infected meat. Still, the CDC advises against eating meat from animals known to have CWD. Hunters should take these recommended precautions when harvesting deer:

  • Do not shoot, handle or consume any animal that is acting abnormally or appears to be sick.
  • If you do shoot a deer that acts abnormally or appears emaciated, report your harvest to your area DNR office.
  • Wear latex or rubber gloves when field dressing deer.
  • Bone out the meat from the animal. Don’t saw through bone, and avoid cutting through the brain or spinal cord (backbone).
  • Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.
  • Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.
  • Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of harvested animals. Normal field dressing coupled with boning out a carcass will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will remove remaining lymph nodes.
  • If hunters have a deer or elk commercially processed, request that the animal is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to meat from their animal.

CWD is transmitted primarily from animal-to-animal by infectious agents in feces, urine or saliva. The disease also can persist for a long time in the environment and may be contracted from contaminated soil. The movement of live animals is one of the greatest risk factors in spreading the disease to new areas.

For more information, including maps of CWD surveillance areas, common questions and answers and hunter information, visit the DNR’s CWD homepage.