December 17, 2018 10:38 PM
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking deer hunters to participate in two special deer hunts.
The hunts are a part of an effort to track and control the spread of chronic wasting disease.
Twelve new CWD cases were confirmed in wild deer this fall. There have been 30 the past three years, all of them in southeastern Minnesota.
To participate in the special hunt, hunters will have to follow a set of rules. All the hunting will take place around the designated CWD Zone in Fillmore County. Hunters and landowners are being asked to kill as many deer as possible.
"Our hope and plan was to try and eliminate the disease from the landscape by catching it early," DNR Wildlife Research Manager Lou Cornicelli said. "That appears not to be the case. I think our hope now is can we keep the infection contained and really put a dent in it over this winter."
DNR research shows CWD is a growing problem. They need help from hunters and landowners to do something about it.
"Our real concern is what it will do to deer populations over time," Cornicelli said. "Because we're seeing that in other states and we don't want to get there."
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Deer hunters can buy an unlimited number of permits for $2.50 each. Landowners can take deer and in January, USDA sharp-shooters are being hired to kill deer. The DNR estimates the sharp-shooters will cost about $200,000.
"This is really a drastic thing," said John Zanmiller, who is a member of the Bluff Land Whitetails Association. "You know some people have called this the nuclear option. It's not something any of us wanted to see."
According to Zanmiller, a majority of the hunting will take place on private land.
"First and foremost ensure that you have permission and make sure you are staying on that parcel of land," Zanmiller said.
Every deer must be tested for CWD. DNR staff will take samples at four harvest stations. Whole deer can't leave the zone until test results come back.
A lot of the venison will be given away. Hunters can sign up through the DNR's 'Share the Harvest' program.
Meanwhile, at Oak Meadow Meats, they're ready for more venison to process.
"We kind of expect to see more venison coming in later in the year than usual," said owner Michael Aggen. "We'll be probably going until March or April."
This is the third time the DNR has held special deer hunts in southeastern Minnesota. The last two years, 1,249 deer were killed during the hunts.
Updated: December 17, 2018 10:38 PM
Created: December 17, 2018 09:06 PM
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