Minnesota game farm red deer positive for CWD

St. Paul — A red deer that died in early May at a farm in Ramsey County has tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

It marks the fifth time the disease has been discovered in deer or elk at a farmed facility in the state. The deer, a 2-year-old female, was tested as part of the state’s surveillance program, which requires producers to test all deer and elk that are slaughtered or die, and that are 16 months or older.

The deer was part of a 500-plus animal red deer herd, which is the largest in the state. The herd is under quarantine, and it’s too early to say what the next steps will be, said Dr. Paul Anderson, assistant director of the Board of Animal Health.

“We have no clue” where the disease came from, he said. “I don’t think anyone would even have any speculation at this time.”

The deer looked outwardly healthy and was in good shape. There was no reason to believe it was infected, Anderson said.

The herd, located in North Oaks in the northeast metro, has been registered with the Board of Animal Health since 2000. A number of animals have been tested for the disease since then, and live animals haven’t been brought into the herd since 2002, Anderson said.

The managers of the farm are “the best,” he said, and the records on the animals are “quite immaculate.”

“This is really sad,” Anderson said. “This is a beautiful herd of animals.”

Board of Animal Health officials will meet this week with the farm owners as they determine the next steps. In the other four cases when deer and elk at captive facilities tested positive for CWD, the remainder of the herd also was slaughtered and tested for CWD.

The farm owners have done everything in accordance with the law, and are cooperative, Anderson said.

“To our knowledge, there’s never been an escape (from the farm) or an intrusion (into it) that we’re aware of,” he said. “Their fences are immaculate. This place is really well run.”

DNR response

In other cases where CWD-positive deer and elk have been found in captive facilities, the DNR has collected samples for testing during the hunting season.

The majority are from the firearms season; there isn’t a firearms season in North Oaks. But the agency will collect them in other ways, according to Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager.

There are a couple of hunts in Ramsey County parks that are near the farm. The city of North Oaks also has a deer-removal program, and there’s also an individual who collects road-killed deer.

“It will be a little bit more challenging to get numbers (of deer for sampling) just because of where the farm is,” Cornicelli said.

At this point, there’s no reason to believe wild deer in the area have the disease.

“We’ve not had reports of sick deer in the area,” Cornicelli said.

Categories: Hunting News, Social Media

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *