DNR intensifies CWD response efforts in southeastern Minnesota
Eleven new cases of wild deer infected with the neurological disease were discovered this fall in or around the chronic wasting disease management zone in Fillmore County in southeastern Minnesota. In response, the DNR will open two special hunts in December, provide shooting permits to landowners, conduct deer culling efforts in January, and hold a public meeting in Preston on Dec. 18.
Lou Cornicelli, the DNR’s wildlife research manager, said the CWD-positive cases indicate that the disease is persisting in this area, and the DNR needs to act quickly to contain the disease while it is relatively concentrated in a geographic area.
“The last thing people want is an established disease in their backyards,” said Cornicelli. “States that have CWD established in their wild deer populations have seen declines in both deer populations and deer hunter numbers. We’ll continue to do what we can to avoid that situation here.”
The disease management zone was established by the DNR after CWD was discovered in wild deer near Preston in 2016. The zone is an approximately 10-mile radius around Preston.
To date, there have been 28 detected cases of the neurological disease within the CWD disease management zone, 11 of which were detected this fall. While the majority of positives remain within the disease management zone, discoveries of the disease just outside of the boundary are consistent with expected movement of bucks, which tend to travel alongside rivers during the breeding season.
Details about actions the DNR is taking to continue combating CWD in southeastern Minnesota:
- Open two separate three-day deer hunts in December in and around the disease management zone. Details of these late-season hunts and boundary will be available Tuesday, Dec. 4 on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwd.
- Provide shooting permits to landowners interested in removing deer from their property. DNR staff will reach out directly to landowners within the CWD management zone with information about that program.
- Conduct targeted culling starting in mid-January. The DNR will be working with local landowners and coordinating with the United States Department of Agriculture to remove deer from areas where CWD-positive deer were found.
Final CWD test results and preliminary findings from the DNR’s ongoing research on deer movement in southeastern Minnesota will affect how the DNR manages the disease going forward.
DNR researchers will also be surveying hunters and landowners throughout southeastern Minnesota. The study’s goal is to measure attitudes toward the disease and DNR management, and to measure support for potential management actions, including providing incentives to hunters and landowners to help curb disease spread.
The DNR will also have a public meeting in Preston to provide information about CWD and the DNR’s management response to its discovery. The meeting will be from 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, in the Fillmore Central School Auditorium at 702 Chatfield Street.
DNR staff will explain the CWD efforts to date and how the current response is designed to limit its spread. They will also discuss response measures including the disease management zone, special late-season deer hunts, landowner shooting permits, targeted culling and snow-dependent aerial deer survey.
Hunters can find CWD test results of deer tested through mandatory surveillance, as well as locations of positive test results and statistics, at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck. More information about CWD can be found on the DNR’s CWD page at mndnr.gov/cwd. and at cdc.gov/prions/cwd.