St. Paul – Efforts to stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis are
The disease was discovered in the state in 2005, and since then
there’s been a concerted effort to kill deer around the area in the
northwest part of the state where the disease has been found.
Thousands of deer have been killed, and aggressive efforts to
further reduce the herd in the bovine TB area will continue. But an
announcement last week that the state will buy out 6,800 cattle
from producers in the TB area has officials even more optimistic
about the chances of eradicating bovine TB from the state.
“The removal of cattle from this area is a significant step
toward eradicating bovine TB from northwest Minnesota,” Joe Martin,
assistant commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture
and state bovine TB coordinator, said in a release. “However, it is
a bittersweet step, knowing that many of these producers may not
re-enter the cattle business.”
Herd owners will be paid $500 per animal, as well as $75 per
animal, per year until the state regains its TB-Free status.
Removing deer and cattle from the area in an aggressive fashion
“is just really required for this to work,” said Michelle
Carstensen, DNR wildlife health program coordinator.
“Buying out the cattle is the same kind of aggressive tactics”
that wildlife managers have used to try to eliminate the disease,
Since 2005, thousands of deer have been killed in the TB area,
and more than 8,000 deer across the state have been tested for the
disease. Eighteen deer to date are confirmed to have had bovine TB
and six more are “presumptive positive.” (Those six deer were taken
during culling efforts from February through May.)
All of the deer that have tested positive, or are presumed to
have the disease, were taken within the 164-square-mile bovine TB
The deer that have tested positive are all older animals, a good
sign since it indicates that exposure to the disease hasn’t
happened recently, Carstensen said.
Sharpshooters have been used to cull deer in the northwest for a
couple of years, and the effort intensified last winter.
A rule that went into effect on March 31 allows landowners,
tenants, and their agents to take deer without a permit. Between
then and May 12, landowners took 125 deer. Since then, about five
deer have been taken by landowners, said Paul Telander, DNR
regional wildlife manager in Bemidji.
That rule is changing Aug. 1, when a permit will be required to
shoot deer between a half hour after sunset and a half hour before
sunrise, and for taking deer with the aid of an artificial light.
Also, the antlers of any deer taken will have to be turned over to
the DNR area wildlife manager at Thief Lake.
There’s been dissatisfaction among some people in the area about
taking deer at night using lights, Telander said.
“People potentially could have taken some deer with large velvet
antlers,” he said. “We didn’t want to have any issues like that out
there,” which is why antlers have to be turned over to the DNR.
Plans for the fall
The DNR plans to continue removing deer from the TB area this
“We are going to continue to be aggressive in Permit Area 101
and the surrounding permit areas,” Telander said.
There will be early antlerless seasons in some areas and the
permit areas surrounding 101 – 105, 111, 203, 208, 267, and 268 –
will be managed as intensive areas where hunters can shoot as many
as five deer. In area 101, disease management permits also will be
available. Hunters can buy an unlimited number of those
Telander also expects a late season like the one that began in
December of 2007 and lasted into January.