Preliminary tests show that seven deer harvested in southeastern Minnesota’s disease management zone during the first firearms deer season may be infected with chronic wasting disease.
Hunters harvested three of the seven suspect deer near Preston in deer permit area 603, where 11 other deer tested positive during last year’s CWD surveillance efforts. Three others were harvested in Forestville-Mystery Cave State Park, which is still within area 603 but west of the core disease area. The remaining deer was harvested east of Wykoff and north of the park.
Test results from deer permit areas surrounding 603 aren’t yet available and must be analyzed to assess the full extent of the disease and whether or not it has spread outside of the disease management zone.
Once all sampling is completed and test results received, the Department of Natural Resources will follow its CWD response plan and determine next steps, which may include boundary changes to area 603 and additional deer hunting opportunities for the public or landowners.
Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager, said it isn’t clear whether the additional positives indicate a westward expansion of the disease or individual deer movements, given all the presumptive positive deer were adult males.
Testing continues on suspect deer and in 603
CWD testing is a two-step process. The initial tissue sample is analyzed to determine if the animal is presumptive positive. A final test is completed on all presumptive positive samples to confirm if the animal is infected with the disease.
The DNR expects final test results and disease confirmations for all seven deer soon. Those results and any future positives in area 603 will be posted on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck.
Since the archery deer season began in mid-September, 700 samples have been collected in area 603. Hunters brought in 499 of those samples during the first firearms deer season, which began Nov. 4 and concluded Nov. 12. Results are pending on 40 of those deer.
“The DNR wants to thank hunters who submitted samples over opening weekend,” said Jim Leach, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division director. “Compliance was very high, suggesting hunters view this as a very important issue.”
Hunters are reminded that mandatory testing of all adult deer harvested in area 603 continues throughout the 3B season (which starts Saturday, Nov. 18 and concludes Sunday, Nov. 26), as well during the remaining archery, muzzleloader and late seasons. Check stations are located in Preston and Chatfield.
The DNR also will open voluntary surveillance stations from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 18-19 in Rushford and Houston. The DNR encourages hunters who harvest deer around the disease management zone, in deer permit areas 343, 345, 346, 347, 348 and 349, to participate in voluntary sampling at these locations in order to collect as many samples as possible.
Check the DNR’s website, mndnr.gov/cwd, for specific information on check station locations, additional CWD information and DNR efforts to keep Minnesota deer healthy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, to date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people. However, the CDC advises people not to eat meat from animals known to have CWD. Go to www.cdc.gov for more information.