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
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced today that no positives were found in five additional chronic wasting disease test results from deer killed in the nine-square-mile Aitkin surveillance area.
A total of 69 deer have been tested for CWD from the surveillance area, which surrounds a farm where a single elk tested positive for CWD in August. None of the tested deer have been found CWD positive.
So far DNR sharpshooters, archery hunters, landowners and traffic accidents have killed a total of 111 deer in the surveillance area.
DNR sharpshooters stopped culling deer in the area several weeks ago. Special permits that allowed landowners to kill deer have expired. Deer killed by archery hunters in permit area 154 (Aitkin area) and in the upcoming firearms deer hunt are still being accepted for CWD testing.
The remaining 48 elk in the Aitkin herd were euthanized and tested for CWD. No additional positives were found.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is relying on firearms deer hunters to help in the effort to determine if chronic wasting disease has infected the state’s wild deer herd.
Aside from providing deer for sampling in selected permit areas, DNR officials are asking that firearms deer hunters watch carefully for deer that may be displaying symptoms consistent with CWD. Hunters who see a deer that is excessively thin, drooling, has drooping ears, doesn’t show fear of humans or is drinking excessively should carefully note the location of the deer and report it to the DNR.
“We are asking hunters not to shoot sick-looking deer,” said Mike DonCarlos, DNR wildlife research manager. “Instead, hunters should report the precise location to a conservation officer or the local DNR wildlife official.”
Telephone numbers for DNR officials are available on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.
If a deer has CWD or any other disease, it is likely that it won’t leave the area, so DNR officials will be able to find it and get it tested.
“Hunters should carefully consider any deer they see before they decide to harvest it,” DonCarlos said. “If they don’t intend to eat it, they shouldn’t harvest it.”
ONGOING SURVEILLANCE For the past year, the DNR has conducted an ongoing surveillance program, testing “suspect” deer reported by citizens and DNR officials. The surveillance program also included deer culled in Aitkin County, where CWD was discovered in a single farmed elk. So far, more than 150 deer have been tested, including more than 100 in Aitkin County, and no positives have been found.
In addition, the DNR is asking firearms deer hunters who harvest an adult deer in one of the permit areas selected for CWD testing to register the deer as soon as possible so that good samples can be obtained for testing.
DNR staff will be at selected registration stations (see list on the DNR Web site) until the target number of samples is obtained at each station. The DNR will only sample deer older than one year and only those taken in specific target areas. Samples will not be taken from every deer registered at these locations.
Hunters who would like to have their deer tested also have another opportunity because more than 150 veterinarians at 98 clinics have agreed to collect brain stem samples for chronic wasting disease testing from deer harvested during this fall’s firearms season. (Check the chronic wasting disease information page on the DNR Web site for a list of veterinary clinics where hunters can take deer for CWD testing.)
Samples will be sent to the University of Minnesota’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in St. Paul for testing. Hunters will be notified of results through the mail. The test will be available to any hunter who wants a deer tested for a fee determined by local veterinarians and the diagnostic lab.
CARCASS DISPOSAL Bones and other remains may be disposed through rendering, burial, incineration or landfill, DonCarlos said.
“We are asking hunters not to dispose of deer carcass remains in public road ditches or on public land,” DonCarlos said.
PRECAUTIONS Hunters who take the following precautions should be able to safely eat deer or elk taken this season, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Hunters should follow these recommendations: •do not consume meat from any deer that looks or acts ill •do not eat the brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils or lymph nodes of any deer •remove meat from bones rather than sawing through bones •field dress the animal properly; minimize handling of brain or spinal tissues, wear sturdy rubber or latex gloves when field dressing, wash hands and instruments after field dressing is complete.
Each year more than 500,000 Minnesota hunters harvest roughly 200,000 whitetail deer in Minnesota. This year, hunters are being asked to take advantage of management and intensive harvest permits to help keep the state’s deer population in check.
“Managing deer populations at goal densities is an important part of maintaining a healthy deer herd,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game and season management specialist. “We rely heavily on hunters to help do that.”
A judge issued a restraining order Tuesday that prevents a company in southeastern Minnesota from receiving thousands of deer carcasses — possibly infected with chronic wasting disease — from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The order by Houston County District Judge Robert Benson at least temporarily halts a plan by the state of Wisconsin to store deer carcasses in southeastern Minnesota until tests show whether the carcasses are infected with the fatal brain and neurological disorder.
Chronic wasting disease has been found in about 40 free-ranging deer in south-central Wisconsin and threatens the state’s deer hunting, which generates an estimated $500 million in revenue each year.
The disease has not been found in any Minnesota deer, and officials are working to keep the disease out of the state.
Minnesota officials contended, and Benson agreed, that Minnesota law forbids transporting or receiving any deer, carcass, or part of a carcass from the chronic wasting disease infection zone of Wisconsin into Minnesota.
Allen Garber, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said in an affidavit seeking the restraining order that chronic wasting disease could seriously damage the hunting and tourism industries in Minnesota.
“Not only would the prevalence of this disease in Minnesota have disastrous impacts on those who rely on the hunting industry for their livelihoods; it would harm the quality of life of thousands of hunters and wildlife enthusiasts throughout the state,” Garber said.
After finding 40 infected deer, Wisconsin officials came up with a plan to kill 25,000 deer in the infection zone to test them for the disease. The plan is to burn the carcasses of the infected deer and place the others in landfills.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources contracted earlier this month with Wiebke Produce Inc. of Caledonia to store the carcasses in a freezer in Minnesota while the tests are conducted. Wiebke would first skin the deer to remove the hide.
Michael DonCarlos of the Minnesota DNR explained in an affidavit how concerned Minnesota officials were about the Wisconsin plan. DonCarlos said he contacted Joe Brusca of the Wisconsin DNR.
“I told Mr. Brusca that the Minnesota DNR does not want the State of Wisconsin to send their deer carcasses from the CWD endemic area into the State of Minnesota,” DonCarlos said in the affidavit.
The Wisconsin DNR did not agree to change its plan, DonCarlos said.
DonCarlos also said he asked Thomas Wiebke of Wiebke Produce not to bring Wisconsin deer carcasses to Minnesota.
“Mr. Wiebke did not agree to my request,” DonCarlos said in the affidavit.
Pioneer Press efforts to contact Wiebke for comment were unsuccessful.
DonCarlos said in his affidavit that Wisconsin law prevents the deer carcasses from being placed in a landfill unless they have tested negative for chronic wasting disease. If a deer tests positive for the disease or there is no test, the carcass must be incinerated, the Wisconsin DNR official told DonCarlos.
“Mr. Brusca indicated that Wisconsin did not want to incur the cost to incinerate all of the deer it was testing,” DonCarlos said. “Accordingly Wisconsin was planning to test all of the deer and to only incinerate the deer that tested positive for CWD. As the CWD test results are not immediate, Wisconsin was looking for a storage facility for the deer carcasses while it awaited the test results.”
There is no scientific evidence that chronic wasting disease can infect humans, but the World Health Organization advises that people shouldn’t eat any meat from deer or elk with the disease. The disease hasn’t been known to spread naturally to animals other than deer or elk.
The Minnesota Board of Animal Health today announced that the final group of nine elk from an Aitkin County elk herd has tested negative for Chronic Wasting Disease. These findings mean all 48 elk from the Aitkin County farm have tested negative.
The Aitkin County herd has been held under quarantine since Aug. 30, when CWD was detected in a single adult male elk. The final group of nine elk to be tested was shipped to the University of Minnesota’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in St. Paul, where they were euthanized. Veterinarians took tissue samples from each animal and submitted them to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, for testing.
Minnesota Board of Animal Health Executive Director Bill Hartmann said these results are encouraging.
“To date all testing in farmed and free-ranging deer in Aitkin County has been negative,” Hartmann said. “We are encouraged that preliminary results indicate that CWD has not spread from the single infected animal.”
The only confirmed case of CWD in Minnesota was the single male elk that died on the Aitkin County farm. State animal health officials decided to euthanize the entire 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.
“Now that all 48 elk in the Aitkin herd have tested negative, we’ll continue our investigation outside the Aitkin County herd,” Hartmann said. “Discussions are underway with USDA concerning the disposition of the two quarantined herds that remain in Stearns and Benton counties.”
In addition to the Aitkin County herd being tested by Board of Animal Health, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is testing wild deer culled within a nine-square-mile area surrounding the farm. So far, 106 deer killed by DNR sharpshooters, archery hunters, area landowners and traffic accidents have been submitted for testing. The DNR has received 17 additional test results from those deer, all of which were negative. So far, 64 deer from the surveillance area have not tested positive for CWD.
Permits issued to landowners who agreed to harvest deer for sampling in the surveillance area have expired. The DNR will continue to accept deer killed by firearms and archery deer hunters in permit area 154 for CWD sampling.
Minnesota deer hunters fearful of chronic wasting disease can have their animals tested at a university lab this fall.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources assistant wildlife director, Ed Boggess, said the testing will give skittish hunters “reassurance.”
“However, based on the best scientific information available, both state and federal health officials continue to believe CWD is not transmittable to people through eating venison, or by any other means,” he said.
Nearly 100 vet clinics across the state have agreed to collect brain stem samples from hunters’ deer and send them to a University of Minnesota laboratory for CWD testing.
Hunters will be notified of test results through the mail. Positive results will show with certainty that a deer had CWD when it was killed.
“However, just because a deer tests negative doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been recently infected,” Boggess said. That’s because CWD has a slow incubation time, he said.
The test will be available to any hunter for a fee determined by local veterinarians and the state lab. Hunters should register deer before taking them to clinics for sampling. The test may require removing the deer’s head. Samples sent by individual hunters will not be accepted.
The DNR also plans to test 5,000 to 6,000 deer at hunter registration stations this fall to monitor the disease. Minnesota’s regular firearms hunt in southeastern counties is Nov. 9-17 and Nov. 23-29.
The disease showed up in several of Wisconsin’s wild deer and captive deer and elk this year. In Minnesota, the disease has yet to be found in wild deer but has been detected in one captive elk.
There’s no scientific evidence the disease can be transmitted to humans, said Bill Schafer of the University of Minnesota Extension Service and Center for Animal Health and Food Safety.
Chronic wasting disease is a fatal brain ailment of deer and elk and is caused by an abnormally-shaped protein, called a prion.
“Prions have never been found in muscle meat, even in infected deer,” Schafer said.
After 16 years of monitoring affected areas in Colorado, officials found no incidence in humans, he said.
Even so, health officials warn people to avoid eating deer that appear ill or behave unhealthily. People also are warned to avoid the brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes, and to not cut through bones.