Deer hunters in southeastern Minnesota who harvest a deer during the 3A and 3B firearms deer seasons are encouraged to have their deer sampled for chronic wasting disease (CWD) at one of 30 locations that will be staffed.
Due to the expansion of CWD in Iowa and Wisconsin, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will be conducting CWD surveillance in deer areas 339 to 349 throughout the firearm season, an area that includes nearly all the 300 series permit areas. The goal is to collect 3,600 samples.
“Working with hunters to sample deer for evidence of CWD is our best opportunity for early detection of the disease in Minnesota,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager. “Early detection is important from the perspective of limiting disease spread, and we will make the process as quick as possible to get hunters on their way.”
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will be testing harvested deer this fall for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). (photo from gameamdfishmag.com)
CWD is caused by an abnormal protein called a prion that affects the animal’s brain. The disease is always fatal and can spread from one animal to another. Months to years pass from the time an animal is infected to when it shows signs of the disease. There is no known treatment for the disease, and the prions can persist and remain infectious in the environment.
Recent research has demonstrated that long-term CWD infections in wild deer have led to measurable reductions in deer populations.
“We take these actions because our only real opportunity to reduce or eliminate disease is to find it right away,” Cornicelli said. “If a disease like CWD becomes established, it will be a problem for future generations.”
The DNR’s CWD management plan calls for surveillance when risk increases. That risk includes positive domestic animals or when the disease is found in adjacent states.
“Much of the southeast has not been extensively sampled since 2009 and because of the Iowa and Wisconsin infections, it is important to aggressively conduct surveillance,” Cornicelli said.
To further reduce the risk of CWD entering Minnesota, whole deer carcasses are no longer allowed to be imported into Minnesota from anywhere in North America. This is a new restriction this year in Minnesota. There are no restrictions on carcass movement for deer harvested in Minnesota and moved within the state.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other public health agencies have concluded there is no known link between CWD and any neurological disease in humans. However, both the CDC and the World Health Organization recommend that no part of a known positive animal should be consumed by humans. Additionally, there is no evidence that CWD can be naturally transmitted to species other ungulates.
Reminders for hunters, and chances to win
Hunters in the permit areas where sampling is taking place are reminded that they will not be able to register deer by phone or the internet during the surveillance period. Deer must be registered in person at a walk-in registration station and hunters are strongly encouraged to allow sampling of their deer.
Deer must be present at the time of registration. When surveillance quotas are met, the electronic system will be turned back on. Hunters will not be notified of individual results unless their deer is positive. The DNR will release details after deer season that explain overall surveillance results.
CWD sampling only takes a few minutes and is done while the hunter registers their deer. To help encourage samples, Bluffland Whitetails Association has donated a compound bow and a muzzleloader and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association has donated a muzzleloader. Hunters who submit a sample for testing will be entered into a random drawing for one of those items. Also, every hunter who donates a sample will be given a DNR cooperator patch as a small token of appreciation.
DNR staff will be working at 30 sampling sites from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5, and Sunday, Nov. 6, and from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Nov. 7. A smaller number of stations will be open the second weekend, Saturday, Nov. 12, to Sunday, Nov. 13.
Sampling goals will likely not be met during the opening 3A season that runs from Nov. 5 to Nov. 13, so stations will be staffed during the 3B season, which runs from Saturday, Nov. 19 to Sunday, Nov. 27.
Deer check stations where CWD surveillance is occurring are listed on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/cwd, and hunters are encouraged to check the site for new information.
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