CWD found on deer farms prompts new feeding ban in 11 Minnesota counties

Southeastern Minnesota ban continues for 5 counties and includes attractants

A new deer feeding ban is in place until 2019 for 11 central and north-central Minnesota counties surrounding two farms where multiple captive deer were infected with chronic wasting disease. 

“Feeding bans in central and north-central Minnesota are precautionary,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Wild deer in these areas are not know to have CWD. These feeding bans are a proactive step to keep CWD at bay.”

Central Minnesota counties affected by the ban are Kandiyohi; McLeod; Meeker; Stearns; Wright; and the portion of Renville County north of U.S. Highway 212.

North-central Minnesota counties affected are Aitkin; Crow Wing; Morrison; the portion of Cass County south of Minnesota highways 34 and 200; and the portion of Mille Lacs County north of County Road 11.

In Fillmore, Houston, Olmsted, Mower and Winona counties, a ban on deer feeding and deer attractants that has been in place since December 2016 remains in effect through Wednesday, June 27, 2018.

“Feed is not just a pile of corn or grain,” Cornicelli said. “It includes salt and mineral blocks that many hunters use as well as fruits, vegetables, nuts, hay and other food that is capable of attracting or enticing deer.”

One of the most probable mechanisms for CWD spread among deer is over a food or attractant source that concentrates animals. Feeding bans are intended to reduce the number of areas where deer can come into close contact, either directly or indirectly.

The feeding ban in southeastern Minnesota also includes attractants such as deer urine, blood, gland oil, feces or other bodily fluids. These products include such things as bottled estrus and mock scrape drips.

People who feed birds or small mammals must do so in a manner that prevents access by deer or places the food at least six feet above the ground.

Food placed as a result of normal agricultural practices is generally exempted from the feeding ban. But cattle operators should take steps that minimize contact between deer and cattle.

The new deer feeding ban for central and north-central Minnesota became effective Monday, Aug. 28, and extends through Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019.

“Not feeding deer is a simple step that anyone can take to help prevent the spread of disease,” Cornicelli said. “Although well-intentioned, feeding wildlife often does more harm than good.”

Mandatory precautionary CWD testing will be done in portions of the new feeding ban areas to determine whether the disease may have spread from captive to wild deer. Samples will be collected from 5,400 deer harvested in permit areas immediately surrounding CWD-infected farms near Merrifield in Crow Wing County and Litchfield in Meeker County.

Precautionary testing also will be mandatory for 1,800 deer harvested in permit areas adjoining southeastern Minnesota’s CWD management zone, deer permit area 603.

More information about the precautionary feeding ban and mandatory CWD testing this fall are available on the DNR’s website on the chronic wasting disease page.