Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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Testing efforts for CWD start with Minnesota bow season

St. Paul — Testing for chronic wasting disease in southeastern Minnesota will be in full swing again this fall, beginning with next Saturday’s archery opener.

Archery and firearms hunters alike in Permit Area 602 will be required to submit samples for testing.

Last year, archery hunters in that permit area killed 276 deer. None of those – or any other deer killed in that area – tested positive for CWD. To date, the deer killed near Pine Island in late 2010 is the only deer to test positive.

“To find another positive deer in or around Pine Island would not be surprising to anyone,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the DNR. “The fact that we haven’t found another one leads us to believe we are on the front end of this thing.”

The deer that tested positive – an older female – remains the lone wild deer in the state found with CWD. But given that doe’s age, Cornicelli finds it hard to believe there’s not another positive animal in the area.

While officials don’t want to find another deer with CWD, “it’s finding another not near” Pine Island that would be most concerning, Cornicelli said.

Hunters in Permit Area 602 may take one buck and an unlimited number of antlerless deer. The antler-point and cross-tagging restrictions in place in the rest of the southeast do not apply to 602.

All deer killed in 602 must be submitted for testing.

While DNR staffers man registration stations during the 23-day firearms season, they do not during the archery season. As a result, hunters who kill a deer must go to one of the four drop-off points and drop off the animal’s head and fill out paperwork regarding the kill.

Those samples will be picked up and submitted for testing on Mondays and Thursdays.

Firearms-killed deer will be submitted to the University of Minnesota for testing every day.

Other testing

In addition to testing deer in the southeast, the DNR plans to test them in the area of the North Oaks deer farm, where a captive red deer tested positive this year, and in permit areas 159, 183, and 225, which are along the state’s border with Wisconsin.

The agency has been testing road-killed deer in the area of the deer farm, but so far none have been positive. It also will collect samples via any archery kills in the area; special hunts Ramsey County conducts; and the deer-reduction efforts undertaken by the city of North Oaks.

The surveillance in the three east-central permit areas is the result of a CWD-positive wild deer found near Spooner, Wis. The plan is to collect 300 samples in each permit area beginning with the gun hunt.

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