The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is offering additional late-season deer hunts in southeastern Minnesota following the discovery of chronic wasting disease in a wild deer taken in Houston County.
Residents and nonresidents can participate in the hunts from Friday, Jan. 25, through Sunday, Jan. 27, and Friday, Feb. 1, through Sunday, Feb. 3, in deer permit area 346. The DNR will collect samples from deer shot during the two special hunts to help determine the extent of disease in that area. Hunters must bring all deer to a DNR-staffed check station to be tested for CWD.
“Gathering samples from this larger range will give us a better idea of whether additional wild deer in the area have been infected with CWD,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager.
The special hunt boundary encompasses both the spot where a hunter harvested a CWD-positive wild deer and the farmed cervid facility in Winona County 9 miles away, where farmed deer tested positive for CWD in December 2017, Cornicelli said.
To collect samples around the positive deer, the DNR will issue landowner deer shooting permits to individuals within 2 miles of that location.
The Houston County CWD-positive deer, an adult male, was taken during the opening weekend of the 2018 3B firearms deer season. The presumptive-positive test results were announced on Dec. 5 and the disease was confirmed about a week later.
During the upcoming special hunts, DNR biologists will collect samples to better understand if the adult male was an outlier or indicative of a larger outbreak.
“Adult male deer travel long distances, and we don’t know the origin of this deer, so it is important to collect samples over a broad geographic area to get a better picture of CWD in this particular area,” Cornicelli said.
The DNR will use data collected from the special hunts to help inform the extent of disease and potential season changes for next year. The DNR also will issue limited landowner shooting permits to collect additional samples.
For hunters who would like to donate their harvests from the special hunt, the DNR has partnered with the Bluffland Whitetails Association to coordinate donations of deer to those in need. Additional details about the Share the Harvest program are available at mndnr.gov/cwd/share-harvest.html.
Hunters must plan ahead and should check the DNR’s website at mndnr.gov/cwd for complete details about the special hunts, hunt rules and considerations, station locations for registration and CWD sampling, a map of the hunt area, and information about the DNR’s efforts to keep Minnesota wild deer healthy.
Private land makes up most of the area within the hunt area and hunters must have landowner permission to hunt that land. Public lands open during the regular season are open during the special hunts. Interactive maps providing details about public lands also will be available on the DNR’s website.
Public meeting scheduled in Winona
The DNR, which responds to and manages CWD in wild deer, and Minnesota Board of Animal Health (BAH), which regulates farmed deer and elk, will conduct a CWD public information meeting from 7-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 15, in the Tau Center Rotunda at Winona State University, 511 Hilbert St. Seating capacity is limited to 250. Bluffland Whitetails Association plans to stream the event on its Facebook page.
DNR officials will discuss their management response to CWD found in farmed deer in Winona County and a wild deer in Houston County. BAH representatives will provide an overview of state statutes and rules regarding farmed deer, review key aspects of the Farmed Cervidae Program, and give a brief summary of Minnesota’s CWD-positive farmed deer herds since 2002. Participants also will have an opportunity to ask questions of both agencies.
Additional CWD information
CWD test results, including locations of positive test results and statistics, are available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck. Any additional deer harvested during current and upcoming 2018-2019 deer seasons in the disease management zone that test positive for CWD will be reported on this CWD results web page. The DNR will directly notify any hunter who harvests a deer that tests positive.
Complete information about CWD for current and upcoming hunting seasons is online at mndnr.gov/cwd.