Captive deer infected with CWD in Crow Wing, Meeker counties trigger DNR disease response
Precautionary testing during the first two days of firearms deer season will determine whether chronic wasting disease may have spread from captive deer to wild deer in central and north-central Minnesota.
“Wild deer in these areas are not known to have CWD,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Mandatory testing of wild deer that hunters harvest is a proactive and preventative measure to protect Minnesota’s wild deer herd.”
All hunters in affected deer permit areas will be required to have their harvested deer tested on Saturday, Nov. 4, or Sunday, Nov. 5. After field dressing their deer, hunters must take them to a sampling station. DNR staff will remove lymph nodes, which will be submitted for laboratory testing.
Hunters must register their deer by phone, internet or in person. Harvest registration will not be available at CWD sampling stations.
Central Minnesota deer permit areas with mandatory testing are 218, 219, 229, 277, 283 and 285.
North-central Minnesota deer permit areas with mandatory testing are 155, 171, 172, 242, 246, 247, 248 and 249.
Deer harvested in southeastern Minnesota’s permit areas 343, 345, 346, 347, 348 and 349 also are subject to mandatory testing on Nov. 4-5 because of their proximity to CWD-infected wild deer in permit area 603.
Testing in north-central and central Minnesota became necessary after CWD was found in multiple captive deer on farms near Merrifield in Crow Wing County and Litchfield in Meeker County. Test results will determine whether CWD may have been passed from these captive deer to wild deer.
For sampling to accurately detect whether CWD exists in wild deer, the DNR wants to collect 3,600 samples in the north-central area, 1,800 in the central area and 1,800 in the southeast.
Proactive surveillance and precautionary testing for disease is a proven strategy that allows DNR to manage CWD by finding it early and reacting quickly and aggressively to control it. These actions, which were taken in 2005 to successfully combat bovine tuberculosis in northwestern Minnesota deer and in 2010 to eliminate a CWD infection in wild deer near Pine Island, provide the best opportunity to eliminate disease spread.
“Without precautionary testing, early detection would not be possible,” Cornicelli said. “Without early detection, there’s nothing to stop CWD from becoming established at a relatively high prevalence and across a large geographic area. At that point, there is no known way to control it.”
Additional details on mandatory testing will be released throughout the fall as firearms deer season approaches. Complete information about mandatory CWD testing this fall, sampling station locations and a related precautionary feeding ban are available now on the DNR website on the chronic wasting disease page.