Due to the regular amending of regulations in Minnesota, it is recommended that before hunting you check these CWD regulations, as well as those of any other states or provinces in which you will be hunting or traveling through while transporting cervid carcasses. The contact information for Minnesota can be seen below:
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Minnesota- University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
1333 Gortner Avenue St. Paul, MN 55108
612-625-8780 or 800-605-8787
Olmsted, Fillmore and Winona counties
A Stearns County farm has been quarantined because an elk that tested positive for chronic wasting disease in January was kept there nearly three years ago.
The Minnesota Board of Animal Health said this week that the 3-year-old female elk was at the farm owned by Roger Nietfeld near Melrose, Minn., for five months in 2000.
On Jan. 24, the elk tested positive on a farm owned by Jim Moscho near Sauk Centre. The other 20 elk in the herd tested negative. It was the state’s second confirmed case of the disease.
Malissa Fritz, a spokeswoman for the state Board of Animal Health, said Thursday that plans to test nearly 100 elk on Nietfeld’s farm depend on whether the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will reimburse him for the testing.
Nietfeld could not be reached for comment.
Chronic wasting disease, which attacks the brain and nervous system in elk and deer, is caused by abnormal proteins called prions. Infected animals show progressive weight loss and behavioral changes.
No infected deer have been found in Minnesota.
The state’s first case of the disease was confirmed last August in a bull elk at a farm in Aitkin County. It also had spent time at Moscho’s farm. No other traces of the disease, which can be transmitted from animal to animal, were found when state animal health officials tested brain tissue samples from the remaining elk on the farm.
The illness is in the same family of fatal diseases as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease, which has killed at least 130 people in Britain and other countries. Mad cow has been linked to contaminated beef and can take up to 30 years to incubate in people.
The Minnesota Board of Animal Health would regulate all captive elk and deer in the state under a legislative proposal to help stop the spread of chronic wasting disease.
The proposal by a broad-based task force would have the board operate a mandatory registration and chronic wasting disease surveillance program.
The legislative report, which also recommends giving the board $600,000 per year to operate the program, was prepared over the past nine months by agencies and organizations dealing with the state’s captive cervidae or wild deer herds. The proposals are aimed at helping the state stop the disease, which is fatal to elk and deer, from spreading among the state’s elk population and into the wild deer herd. So far, it has been found in two captive elk but no wild deer.
Oversight is split, with the board regulating 319 herds of deer, elk and other cervidae. The DNR regulates game farms, including 452 with cervidae such as deer and elk. The board is generally considered to have tighter rules and standards, because of its livestock background, to be better equipped to manage captive animals.
Now, 227 farms participate in the board’s voluntary program, agreeing to register the animals, to report any death and to submit brain samples for testing. Under the new proposal, all 771 farms would have to participate.
“This would cost some additional money,” said Edgerton, agricultural policy director for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “In a time of budget cuts, the timing isn’t good.”
Even with no additional money, the board would do its best to get the job done, said Dr. Paul Anderson, the board’s assistant director.
“But to fully implement this with the best scenario would take more resources,” Anderson said.
The report recommends other measures, including:
Making permanent a temporary restriction on importing elk and deer. For the past year, farmers haven’t been able to bring them into Minnesota unless the animals have been part of a chronic wasting disease surveillance program for three years. Without action, that restriction will expire this year.
Banning hunters from bringing whole elk or deer carcasses into the state. “They’d have to be processed or boned out,” Edgerton said. “A lot of people already do that. But we don’t want the spinal cord or brain (where the prion causing the disease can be found) back here. So we though ‘Why push that envelope?’ That will cause some folks some heartburn, especially those who hunt in Wisconsin.”
Providing money for the University of Minnesota’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, which has taken on new testing responsibilities for chronic wasting disease, West Nile virus and other diseases.
The lab is seeking $1.5 million for more space and better laboratory capabilities. The university doesn’t consider the facility, built and equipped in 1959, able to meet the increased volume of testing required of it. The number of rests performed at the lab, for example, has more than doubled in the past decade.
As chronic wasting disease has spread from a relatively small area of Colorado and Wyoming, more states have tightened their borders and imposed mandatory testing and surveillance requirements. North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, for example, require mandatory registration and surveillance.
The DNR and the Board of Animal Health prepared the report, with help from at least seven other organizations including the Department of Agriculture, the Minnesota Elk Breeders Association and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.
Edgerton said DNR Commissioner Gene Merriam is reviewing the report before it’s sent on to Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who will consider whether to present it to the Legislature.
ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Board of Animal Health today announced that an elk from a Stearns County farmed elk herd has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The animal was one of 21 elk on a farm near Sauk Center that were being quarantined and tested due to exposure to a CWD-positive male elk from Aitkin County. The other 20 elk in the herd tested negative.
A sample of the three-year-old female elk’s brain was taken last week at the University of Minnesota’s Diagnostic Laboratory in St. Paul. Those samples were submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa.
The Stearns County herd, along with a farm in Benton County, was quarantined after animal health officials learned that a CWD-positive male elk from Aitkin County had been on both properties. The USDA purchased the two herds and submitted the animals to be tested. Animal health officials expect results from the Benton County herd next week.
Minnesota Board of Animal Health Executive Director Bill Hartmann said the investigation will continue.
“The Board will now begin investigating the whereabouts of every animal that left the farm in the past five years,” said Hartmann. “The Board plans on testing every elk it locates.”
Last August, the first confirmed case of CWD in Minnesota was detected in a male elk that died on the Aitkin County farm. State animal health officials decided to test the entire 48-animal herd because it is thought that CWD may be transmitted by animal-to-animal contact and the only way to test an animal for CWD is to obtain a brain sample. The other 48 animals on the Aitkin County farm were negative. Those results prompted officials to focus their investigation on the two quarantined herds that had been in contact with the CWD-positive elk.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) plans to analyze results from more than 900 brain stem samples collected from deer in three permit areas in the vicinity of the Stearns County elk farm last fall. This includes permit areas 415, 417 and 221.
Using those results, DNR officials will determine if additional samples are needed to find out if CWD has infected wild deer in the area. To date, CWD has not been detected in Minnesota’s wild deer herd. So far, 1,488 samples collected during the 2002 firearms deer season have been negative. Results on the remainder of the approximately 4,500 samples collected are expected within weeks. So far, the DNR has received test results from 282 of 306 samples collected in area 417. No results have been returned for permit areas 415 and 221.
“We have asked the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory to expedite testing of samples from these permit areas,” Said Mike DonCarlos, research manager for the DNR Division of Wildlife. “We hope to have results very soon.”
CWD is a fatal brain and nervous system disease found in elk and deer in certain parts of North America. The disease is caused by an abnormally shaped protein called a prion, which can damage brain and nerve tissue. Infected animals show progressive loss of body weight with accompanying behavioral changes. In later stages of the disease, infected animals become emaciated (thus “wasting” disease). Other signs include staggering, consuming large amounts of water, excessive urination, and drooling.
So far, the news on chronic wasting disease in Minnesota remains good.
Test results on nearly 2,000 deer samples collected from Minnesota hunters this fall have been received, and none tested positive for chronic wasting disease, DNR officials reported. Those samples include 498 of the 528 collected for hunters by veterinarians.
Officials collected about 4,500 samples from selected deer registration stations, in addition to those collected by the veterinarians. Test results for the remaining 3,000 samples are expected by the end of the month.
“Even if we get through all 4,500 samples and none test positive, that’s good news, but people have got to put it into context,” said the DNR’s Mike DonCarlos. “We’ve only looked at 10 percent of our deer population. If it [CWD] is out there, it likely will be in a cluster, in a low prevalence and hard to detect. Negatives are good news, but we’ve got a lot more work to do.”
The DNR intends to sample more deer in different areas this fall.
Two more elk herds in Minnesota will be destroyed for testing as the search goes on to determine how a single elk on a farm near Aitkin was exposed to chronic wasting disease, killing it last summer.
The newly condemned elk are in herds where the bull, known as Elk 776, had once grazed. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) was detected in Elk 776’s brain tissue on Aug. 30 after it died near Aitkin, and that herd has already been destroyed.
State officials said Monday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved funding to pay farmers in Stearns and Benton counties for the 55 additional elk that soon will be destroyed.
In August 2000, Clayton Lueck bought Elk 776 for his family’s farm in Aitkin County. The elk died there in the first and only known case of the brain-wasting disease in Minnesota.
In September and October, the other 48 elk on the farm owned by Lueck’s family were destroyed and their brains tested — the only way at this time that the disease is tested for. The elk tested negative, and the department paid Lueck for them.
“I’m almost 100 percent certain that it didn’t come from my farm,” Lueck said Monday of the CWD. “If it had come from my farm, another elk would have had to be the carrier and would have tested positive.”
The incubation period for CWD is believed to be 16 months to three years, though a few experts say it could be as long as five years.
Now, the hunt goes on for the origin of Elk 776’s exposure. On Monday, officials with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health said the two herds where it grazed previously will be destroyed for testing in several weeks.
Those owners — Duane and Sandy Thene of rural Sauk Rapids and James and Elaine Moscho of Sauk Centre — want the testing done. Their herds have been quarantined for three months.
Lueck bought Elk 776 from the Moschos in August 2000. The Moschos boarded Elk 776 at the Thene farm, from January 1999 to July 2000.
The Moschos, who specialized in artificial insemination, bought and sold elk much more than many other owners. It’s unknown whether officials will try to trace any elk that had left the Moscho farm or had been boarded at the Thene farm before the quarantines.
Such decisions will be made after testing on the Thene and Moscho herds, said Malissa Fritz, a spokeswoman for the Board of Animal Health.
Board investigators have received conflicting stories about where 776 was kept in late 1997 and 1998. Because that would have been before the three-year CWD incubation period, officials haven’t probed that issue in depth, they said.
But if other elk on the Moscho and Thene farms test positive, the location of Elk 776 in 1997 and 1998 could become important, as other exposures to the disease would be traced.
Meanwhile, Minnesota’s $70 million-a-year elk industry has slowed to a standstill as other states remain reluctant to allow Minnesota elk across their borders.
The Minnesota Elk Breeders Association pushed for the testing of the Thene and Moscho herds and hired a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., where the Agriculture Department funding decision was made, to hurry the process.
“We made quite a few phone calls,” said Brenda Hartkopf, executive secretary of the Elk Breeders Association.
“This process needed to be completed before we could move on, so we’re really happy to see that it’s progressing.”