The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will focus actions to slow and hopefully eliminate the spread of chronic wasting disease in southeastern Minnesota within about a 10-mile radius of Preston and include a deer-feeding ban in the five adjoining area counties.
“This 370-square-mile disease management zone is the area of greatest concern,” said Dr. Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the Minnesota DNR. “Landowners and hunters will help us conduct our primary control and sampling efforts here so we can act quickly, aggressively and cooperatively to limit and hopefully stop any spread of CWD.”
The zone is bordered roughly on the northwest by Chatfield, on the northeast by Arendahl, on the southeast by Canton and on the southwest by Bristol.
One of the actions planned in the disease management zone will be a special late-season deer hunt from Saturday, Dec. 31, through Sunday, Jan 15. Additional details regarding the special hunting season will be released at a later date.
Later this month, a deer-feeding ban goes into effect for residents of Fillmore, Houston, Mower, Olmsted and Winona counties. Those counties adjoin the area west of Lanesboro where two CWD-infected deer recently were discovered. The feeding ban encompasses a wider area because the potential extent of the infection is not known and one of the most probable mechanisms for CWD spread among deer is over a food source that concentrates animals and allows close contact.
“One simple step that anyone can do to help prevent the spread of disease is to stop feeding deer,” Cornicelli said.
Details of how landowners and hunters can help the DNR proceed with disease management actions will be discussed with the public at a meeting on Thursday, Dec. 15, in Preston. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Fillmore Central School Auditorium, 702 Chatfield St.
Items that will be discussed include the disease management zone and activities governed within it; the deer-feeding ban; the special late-season hunt; landowner shooting permits; and temporary suspension of antler point restriction regulations. DNR staff will answer additional questions as will representatives from other state agencies and deer hunting groups.
The DNR still needs hunters’ assistance to continue testing deer harvested in permit areas 347 and 348. Hunters should follow the instructions to complete a simple form and place it – along with the head of a harvested deer – in drop boxes located in Chatfield, Harmony, Lanesboro, Preston and Wykoff.
Chronic wasting disease is a fatal brain disease to deer, elk and moose but is not known to affect human health. Prior to the recent discovery near Lanesboro, the only other wild deer with the disease found in Minnesota was harvested near Pine Island in 2010.
For more information, including a map of the disease management zone, feeding ban area, common questions and answers and hunter information, visit the DNR’s CWD homepage at www.mndnr.gov/cwd.