DNR to continue extensive testing for CWD this fall

DNR Reports

St. Paul The DNR announced plans Tuesday to triple the number of
wild deer tested for chronic wasting disease during this fall’s
hunting seasons.

No positive results were found last year in tests on about 4,400
deer. This fall, the goal is to test 13,000 hunter-harvested deer
for CWD. The intensified effort is part of a plan to test wild deer
throughout the state in the next two to three years, said Lou
Cornicelli, big game coordinator for the DNR Division of
Wildlife.

Samples will be collected at 135 big-game registration stations
in 60 permit areas located in the northwest, northeast,
east-central and west-central portions of the state. A map
detailing the permit areas can be found on the DNR Web site at
www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Like last year, DNR staff, with the help of volunteers and
tribal authorities, will ask firearms hunters to submit their deer
for sampling as they bring the animal in for registration.

Cornicelli said a streamlined sampling process will help staff
collect the additional samples this year, although weather and
hunter success will still play a large role in the effort’s
success.

“We made several refinements that should make the process more
efficient this year,” Cornicelli said. “Deer permit areas have been
clustered so more deer that arrive at a DNR staffed registration
will be sampled. We have also streamlined the data collection
process, which should allow hunters to get in and out of the
registration station quickly.”

Also different from last year’s procedure will be the type of
test run on samples, Cornicelli said. This year a lymph node will
be removed from the harvested deer’s head for testing rather than
brain stem tissue. The deer’s head will still need to be removed at
the registration station.

Cornicelli said the DNR encourages archery hunters who harvest
deer at least one year old in a targeted permit area to contact
their local wildlife office so a sample can be collected. A list of
wildlife offices is available on the DNR web site or call the
agency at (651) 296-6157. Fawns will not be tested because the
prevalence rate of the disease is so low it can’t be detected with
reliability at that age.

Hunters who volunteer a sample this year will receive a DNR
cooperator patch and be placed in a drawing to win one of several
firearms being offered by the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association
and Bluffland Whitetails Association.

Cornicelli reminded hunters that they must present the deer at
the time of registration to legally comply with the registration
requirements.

Hunters who harvest deer outside areas where the DNR is
collecting samples and who are interested in getting their deer
tested can again submit a sample through their local veterinarian.
The University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory is
updating its list of participating veterinarians. The list will be
available later this fall on the DNR web site and in Outdoor
News.

So far, CWD in Minnesota has been found only in farmed elk. One
elk tested positive for CWD after it died on an Aitkin County farm
in August 2002. A second elk, which was part of a herd where the
Aitkin elk originated, tested positive after it was quarantined and
killed for testing on a Stearns County farm in January 2003.

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