DNR taking action after 11 new cases of CWD found in SE Minnesota

December 04, 2018 07:59 PM

The Department of Natural Resources plans two special deer hunts this month aimed at limiting the spread of chronic wasting disease in wild deer in southeastern Minnesota.

The DNR on Tuesday announced the hunts in specific deer permit areas south of Interstate 90 near Preston, Minnesota. Residents and nonresidents can take part in the hunts from Dec. 21 to Dec. 23 and from Dec. 28 to Dec. 30.

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Landowners in the area can also get special permits to take deer. In January, marksman from the USDA will start shooting deer for testing and to reduce numbers.

"The only real chance of response and doing something positive is to be aggressive right up front" said Lou Cornicelli, the DNR's Wildlife Research Manager. "I think we would be outside our obligation if we let this disease run it's course. It's difficult to wrap your head around CWD because it's such a long term disease. Our real concern is what it will do to deer populations over time? Because we're seeing that in other states and we don't want to get there."  


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The agency says it's acting quickly to contain the fatal deer disease while it is concentrated in one geographic area; a special CWD management zone in a 10 mile radius of Preston. Reducing deer numbers will help lower densities and remove infected animals from southeastern Minnesota.

There are strict regulations for the special hunts. They will all take place on private land and all deer taken must be tested for CWD. Hunters should check the DNR's website for details about the hunts.

In addition to the health of Minnesota's wild deer population, another big concern is the perception of CWD will result in fewer people buying deer hunting licenses. "It's not a perception. I think at some level it's a reality" said Cornicelli. "You've seen declines in hunting license sales in Wisconsin related to disease. We've seen declines in southeast Minnesota, I think probably related to disease." 

Cornicelli said fewer licenses will hurt the state's hunting economy and the DNR's bottomline. "Deer hunting is big business for local economies. And if we lose 10 or 20 percent of our statewide deer hunters that hurts everybody."

CWD causes brain lesions in deer, elk and moose. There is no evidence chronic wasting infects people, however, the CDC recommends not eating deer that have tested positive for CWD.

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Kevin Doran

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