A deer feeding ban is in place until at least 2019 for 11 central and north-central Minnesota counties surrounding two facilities where multiple captive deer were infected with chronic wasting disease.
“Feeding bans in central and north-central Minnesota are precautionary and part of our overall strategy to limit CWD, if it exists in wild populations,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Wild deer in these areas are not known to have CWD. These feeding bans are a proactive step to keep CWD at bay.”
In 2017, the DNR completed the first of three years of surveillance in these areas and no disease was found.
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.
Attractants are not prohibited in the central and north-central counties.
In Fillmore, Houston, Olmsted, Mower, Wabasha and Winona counties, a ban on both deer feeding and use of attractants has been in place since 2017 and will continue for the foreseeable future. Wabasha County was added this year because CWD was detected in captive deer in Winona County.
“People should know that 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 place the food at least 6 feet above the ground.
Food placed as a result of normal agricultural practices is generally exempted from the feeding ban. Cattle operators should take steps that minimize contact between deer and cattle.
“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 over opening weekend of the firearm season in portions of the feeding ban areas to determine whether the disease may have spread from captive to wild deer. This year, the DNR has narrowed the surveillance area and more information can be found on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwd.