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:
Click a section to expand:
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
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.
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. The plans to test between 5,000 and 6,000 hunter-harvested deer during the firearms deer season as part of its ongoing surveillance program. The demand for tests is expected to be much higher, however, according to Ed Boggess, assistant director of the DNR Wildlife Division.
“We’re very happy that we’ve been able to work with the University of Minnesota to help provide this service to Minnesota hunters who would like to get their deer tested,” Boggess said. “We know this will give some 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.”
The University of Minnesota’s Diagnostic Laboratory will test only samples submitted by approved veterinarians. Samples sent by individual hunters will not be accepted. The list of approved veterinarians is available on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us. Hunters are responsible for taking their deer to the veterinarians for sample collection. If the University of Minnesota lab finds CWD, the Minnesota DNR will be immediately notified in order to investigate and respond. Information on deer that do not test positive will also be available to the DNR through an electronic database. Hunters who wish to have their deer tested through the University of Minnesota should be sure to register their deer before bringing it to the veterinarian for sampling. The test may require the head of the deer to be removed. State law requires hunters to obtain a possession tag at a registration station before the head is removed. Hunters need to be sure to keep the possession tag with the carcass, not leave it with the veterinarian.
The test detects prions – an abnormal protein that scientists believe causes CWD. Because CWD incubates slowly, the tests cannot be used to tell whether an animal has been recently infected.
“If an animal tests positive, we know with certainty that is has CWD,” Boggess said. “However, just because a deer tests negative doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been recently infected.”
So far CWD has been detected in one captive elk in Minnesota. The disease has not been detected in the state’s wild deer herd. In a separate effort, DNR officials plan to sample between 5,000 and 6,000 hunter-harvested deer at select registration stations throughout the state to help determine if the disease is in the wild herd.
Federal and state health officials recommend that hunters follow the following steps with deer processed for consumption: •do not consume meat from any deer 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, and wash hands and instruments after field dressing is complete.
Animals infected with CWD typically show one or more of the following clinical signs, which may be readily apparent: •starvation and dehydration •excessive salivation •stumbling, weakness, loss of coordination or tremors •drooping head or ears •excessively rough or dull coat •loss of fear of humans.
Hunters who notice a deer that is showing any of the above signs should not shoot the deer. Instead, they should report the sighting to their local DNR wildlife office. DNR personnel will attempt to locate the animal and have it tested for CWD
Though chronic wasting disease hasn’t been found in Minnesota’s wild deer herd, hunters this fall will be able to get their deer tested for the disease by the University of Minnesota’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in St. Paul.
The lab is getting special equipment and expects to be certified for chronic wasting disease testing soon by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“The testing will happen,” said Dr. Jim Collins, lab director. “We’re not sure what our capacity will be, but we’re trying to gear up to do 1,000 samples per day.”
Under the plan, hunters who want their deer tested will take the deer’s head to local veterinarians who have agreed to participate in the testing program. They will take brain stem samples and send them to the university’s lab for testing.
Collins said the total cost to a hunter is uncertain; his lab will charge $30 for the tests, and the veterinarians obviously will charge to take the sample, mail it to the lab, then inform the hunter of the results.
“The costs will vary depending on the amount of services,” said Sharon Vangsness, executive director of the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association.
The association is polling its 1,600 members to determine those willing to participate in the program, Vangsness said. She said the association has asked its members to respond by Thursday.
The association plans to publish a list of veterinarians willing to participate in the program, and those lists will be available at all deer registration stations, Vangsness said.
It’s unclear whether hunters will be able to submit samples directly to the lab, or will be required to go through a veterinarian. It’s essential that the proper sample is tested, Collins said.
“There’s a specific area of the brain we need to evaluate,” he said. “If you don’t have the proper sample, the testing is for naught.”
But he said hunters could be instructed in how to collect the samples. DNR officials are being trained in how to take samples. The lab plans to also test samples from the 5,000 hunter-killed deer that the Department of Natural Resources wants to test from around the state this fall to help determine if the disease exists in the wild deer herd.
If a significant number of hunters also have their deer tested for personal reasons, that would give the DNR a better overall picture of whether the disease is present in the state’s wild deer herd.
Collins said his lab originally intended to test only those DNR-collected samples, but decided to offer the service to hunters, too, because of the heavy interest and a request by the DNR.
He said DNR officials expect only a percentage of hunters will want their deer tested. Officials hope the testing will resolve the concerns for those hunters.
“There are a number of hunters adamant about testing their deer,” said Mike DonCarlos, DNR wildlife research manager. “This will provide that service.”
State and federal officials have said there is no evidence that the disease can be transmitted to humans, though hunters have been urged to use caution when handling deer.
Officials plan to release details of the testing plan soon. Collins said everything should be in place before the regular firearms season opens Nov. 9. The lab already has invested $150,000 to do the tests.
Meanwhile, the second round of tests on deer killed in the Aitkin area to check for chronic wasting disease were negative, officials reported last week. Test results from 25 of 90 deer that have been killed in a nine-mile area around an elk farm where Minnesota’s first case of the disease was reported in August have come back negative.
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has taken the headlines in the media on numerous occasions as of late. I know that here at the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA) we have been heavily involved in the disease since it was discovered in Wisconsin back in March of 2002. I knew then that it would be an interesting fall to say the least.
I could repeat the science of the disease once again, but this seems to receive less attention than sensationalistic media. I have found that my articles containing factual information on CWD have been passed up many a time, where as peoples “opinions” have made the headlines on numerous occasions. So, I decided to leave the science out of this article, and just give my opinion on the situation. Please understand, there are many individuals in the media who have done an excellent job of conveying accurate information regarding CWD, and I applaud them.
I would like to first emphasize the most important factor in deciding whether or not people will hunt this year, education. MDHA, along with numerous state and federal organizations, is working non-stop to provide people with the factual scientific information from which they can base their decisions. Unfortunately, there is no paucity of media using less than accurate information, hunches, and opinions. While the individuals providing the information feel they are doing the public a service by getting the information out, they are really performing a disservice by confusing the public about the disease. Please understand, by providing inaccurate information you may incorrectly influence someone’s decision to hunt, and that’s just not fare.
I know that there are theories ranging from black helicopters introducing CWD to control deer herds, to sheep meal containing scrapie being fed to deer in Colorado to explain the origin of CWD. This doesn’t mean that we print each one of these theories, or that any of them are accurate. I cannot count the number of inaccuracies that abound in the media today relating to CWD. The best thing we can do is provide the public with accurate scientific information, and then let them make their own educated decision. Remember, the story changes every barber shop it passes through, just like the fish that gets bigger every time the story is told. We need to start out with good information.
That being said, let me clarify that MDHA is not downplaying CWD. We here at MDHA think CWD is important because of what we know it to be, a disease that affects deer and elk. The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association is very concerned with CWD because it can affect the health and overall status of the MN deer herd. Deer hunting in the Midwest is far too important of a tradition, and the deer herd in the Midwest is much too important to jeopardize. Hunting brings people into the outdoors, and with urbanization that is becoming increasingly important.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for deer hunters to discern what the truth is regarding CWD, because one week the media portrays a positive image and the next they paint a bleak picture. If I wasn’t as closely involved with the situation as I am, I would be one of two things; confused, or numb about the situation.
It amazes me to this day that CWD seems to get more emphasis than the West Nile virus. Here is a wildlife disease known to transmit to humans, and even cause death. The obvious precaution there would be to stay inside. How many people stay inside because of West Nile virus? Hunters, would you stop hunting because of West Nile, and the chance that you may be bitten by a mosquitoe carrying the disease? I doubt it. Yet some are willing to dismiss the hunting season because of a disease (CWD) that has not shown to transmit to humans, and has not even been found in the wild deer herd?
Once again, let me reiterate that hysteria should not be the goal regarding CWD. Our goal should be accurate information, which then leads to educated decisions. Let’s get the facts out to the public about what we know and don’t know about CWD, and let them decide.
The time has come when hunters are asked to live up to their commitment of herd management, and tradition. There are a lot of deer out there this year, and a tremendous amount of opportunity to harvest these animals. I hope to see you out in the field. I am hunting this year. I have already been out a few times during the archery season. I plan to harvest deer this year, process them, and consume them. This hunting season is very clear to me, I am hunting, there’s no fog clouding my judgment on this decision.
For those seeking accurate up to date information regarding CWD, check out the following websites:
CWD Alliance (www.cwd-info.org)
MN DNR (www.dnr.state.mn.us)
Wisconsin DNR (www.dnr.state.wi.us)
MN BAH (www.bah.state.mn.us)
MN Dept. Agriculture (www.mda.state.mn.us)
MN Dept. Health (www.health.state.mn.us)
USDA APHIS (www.aphis.usda.gov)
University of MN (www.cvm.umn.edu)
University of Wyoming Veterinary Lab (www.wyovet.edu/WSVL/cwd.html)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, August 30, 2002
Chronic Wasting Disease found in a farmed elk from Aitkin County. Case marks the first time this disease has been detected in Minnesota
ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Board of Animal Health today announced that a single animal from an Aitkin County domestic elk herd has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The case marks the first time this disease of elk and deer has been detected in Minnesota.
A sample of the five-year-old male elk’s brain was submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, after the animal died from an unknown illness. Subsequent testing at NVSL confirmed that the animal had CWD. NVSL’s positive finding prompted the Board of Animal Health to immediately quarantine the herd. This quarantine means no animals can move on or off the farm. In the coming days, federal and state officials will decide the ultimate disposition of the herd.
Four years ago, Minnesota implemented a voluntary CWD monitoring program for farmed deer and elk herds. Every time a deer or elk from one of the enrolled farms dies or is slaughtered, its brain is tested for CWD. The herd from which the CWD positive animal came was enrolled in the monitoring program since 2000, and in that time four other animals were tested for CWD. All four animals tested negative.
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.
According to state health officials and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans.
Until this case was reported, CWD had never been found in Minnesota. There have been cases in farmed elk in Colorado, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Montana and Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. Cases have also been found in wild deer in Wisconsin, Wyoming, Colorado, South Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico and Saskatchewan.
© Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance