As part of previously announced plans to test more than 13,000 wild deer for chronic wasting disease (CWD) during this fall’s hunting seasons, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will be collecting samples from archery deer hunters in designated surveillance areas.
While the majority of effort will take place during the firearms deer season, the DNR is also encouraging archery deer hunters who take deer in the surveillance permit areas to submit samples. The list of deer permit areas can be found at: www.dnr.state.mn.us/mammals/deer/cwd/testingstations.html.
Archers who take a deer in one of the surveillance permit areas are encouraged to call their local DNR wildlife office to arrange dropping off their deer head. Locations and phone numbers for wildlife offices can also be found on the DNR Web site or by calling 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367). When the deer head is collected, the hunter will be asked a few questions pertaining to where the animal was harvested, said Lou Cornicelli, big game coordinator for the DNR Division of Wildlife.
No positive results were found last year in tests on about 4,400 deer. This fall, the goal is to test 13,000 hunter-harvested deer for CWD. The intensified effort is part of a plan to test wild deer throughout Minnesota in the next two to three years.
All hunters who turn in a sample will receive a cooperator patch and will be automatically entered in a drawing to win one of several firearms that are being provided as an incentive by the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Gander Mountain, and Bluffland Whitetails Association.
So far, CWD in Minnesota has been found only in farmed elk. One elk tested positive for CWD after it died on an Aitkin County farm in August 2002. A second elk, which was part of a herd where the Aitkin elk originated, tested positive after it was quarantined and killed for testing on a Stearns County farm in January 2003.
While CWD has not been found in Minnesota’s wild deer, hunters should follow these precautions:
• do not shoot an animal that is acting abnormally or appears to be sick; contact the local DNR conservation officer or DNR wildlife office immediately so an attempt can be made to find and dispatch the animal for testing
• wear durable rubber gloves when field dressing carcasses and wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing
• bone out the meat from the animal; don’t saw through bone; avoid cutting through the brain or backbone
• do not consume brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils or lymph nodes. The normal process of boning meat will remove most, if not all of these tissues.
Testing results will be available on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us once the sampling for the permit area is completed.