Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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Two elk herds to be tested for CWD

Associate Editor

St. Paul State Board of Animal Health officials say two more
captive elk herds have been destroyed and are being tested for
chronic wasting disease, a fatal brain disease discovered in
September in an elk from another farm. They say the CWD-positive
elk from a farm owned by Clayton Lueck in Aitkin County previously
had contact with the other two farms.

The owners of those farms are Jim Moscho, of Sauk Centre, and
Duane Thene, of Sauk Rapids. Twenty-two elk from Moscho’s farm and
33 from Thene’s farm are being tested. Both farms are under
quarantine for one year, per BAH guidelines.

“All of those animals (from the Thene and Moscho farms) have
been brought to the University of Minnesota diagnostic lab where
the animals were euthanized and samples were taken,” said Melissa
Fritz, communications coordinator for the BAH. “The samples will be
taken to the (U.S. Department of Agriculture) diagnostic lab in
Ames, Iowa, where they’ll be tested.”

A bull elk from the Lueck farm in Aitkin County tested positive
for CWD in September. Officials say that bull was born on the
Moscho farm, was leased for stud to the Thene farm, then returned
to the Moscho farm before being sold to Lueck.

All of Lueck’s herd of 48 were killed and tested following the
discovery of CWD. No other animals tested positive for the
disease.

Fritz reported Tuesday all of the elk have been shipped from the
Moscho and Thene farms, though no test results were available yet.
USDA officials appraised the herds twice in order to compensate the
elk farmers. Farmers cannot be compensated more than $3,000 for an
individual animal.

“When we get the test results back, we’ll look at the
information and decide how to proceed,” Fritz said.

Minnesota has about 270 elk farms, most of which are regulated
by the BAH. They contain approximately 11,000 animals. Elk are
marketed for their meat, as well as antler velvet.

Following the discovery of CWD in the farmed elk, DNR officials
began intensively harvesting and testing wild deer in the area. The
department also collected about 4,700 wild deer samples during the
2002 firearms hunting season. No wild deer in Minnesota have tested
positive for the disease.

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