St. Paul – The DNR last week began issuing shooting permits to
landowners in the area where a wild deer tested positive for
chronic wasting disease. As of earlier this week, it had issued
more than 70.
The agency also completed its deer population survey in the Pine
Island area, and outlined its surveillance goals as it works to
determine the prevalence of the disease in the area.
The plan is to kill and test 900 deer – 500 in the core CWD area,
which is a 5-mile radius around where the infected deer was found,
and 400 in a 10-mile radius from the infected animal.
Through last weekend, the agency had collected about 30 samples for
DNR officials continue to contact landowners in the area, but the
opposite also is occurring.
“The response to the shooting permit offer has been quite good,”
said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator and leader of
its CWD response. “Nobody likes the fact that we have to harvest
additional deer this time of year, but if we are on the front end
(and few, if any, other deer have CWD), we have a good opportunity
to eliminate it from the landscape.”
As it contacts landowners, the DNR is prioritizing based on their
proximity to the infected deer, the number of deer in the
Based on aerial surveys, the DNR estimates there are 6,500 deer
within a 10-mile radius of where the infected animal was killed.
About 30 percent of those deer – or 1,900 – were within the core
CWD area. Deer densities are “extremely high” in the core area;
there are as many as 65 to 70 deer per square mile in some cases,
If all goes according to plan, the agency hopes to kill about 14
percent of the deer within the 10-mile radius.
“It’s a significant number, but with respect to the number of deer
that are on the landscape, it’s not a lot,” Cornicelli said.
The agency hopes landowners will be able to take the majority of
the deer it needs to sample.
Eligible landowners, who also can allow other shooters onto their
land, are those within about a 10-mile radius of the infected deer.
Landowners will be given 10 kill tags at a time, but they can
request more if they use all of them.
If the agency cannot get from landowners the samples it needs,
federal sharpshooters from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s
Wildlife Services could be called in. Some landowners have said
they would allow sharpshooters onto their property, Cornicelli
“Our hope is that we can get the majority of the needed sample from
landowner shooting,” Cornicelli said. “There may be cases where a
landowner prefers sharpshooters, or we need to increase sample size
in certain areas beyond what we can get through landowner
All deer taken will be tested for CWD. Landowners or the other
shooters they designate can keep the carcasses, or give them to the
DNR. If landowners decide to keep them, agency officials will pick
up a lymph node sample for testing.
The agency expects test results for each deer will be available
within three business days. All deer that test negative and that
landowners don’t keep will be donated for consumption.
In addition to deep snow, part of the reason deer numbers are so
high in the area is because of the prevalence of recreational
feeding. As a result, the DNR will ban the practice – probably
sometime next week.
The ban will cover Dodge, Goodhue, Olmsted, and Wabasha counties.
It’s being put in place over such a wide area because the extent of
the CWD infection isn’t known, and because deer concentrated over a
food source is one of the most likeliest ways for the disease to
spread, according to the DNR.
Public meeting planned
The DNR is holding a public meeting next Monday, Feb. 14, at the
Pine Island High School cafeteria to discuss its CWD-management
efforts. The meeting runs from 7 to 9 p.m.
Officials from the DNR, state Board of Animal Health, and the
Minnesota Deer Hunters Association will be on hand.