Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials estimate they collected about 4,700 samples for Chronic Wasting Disease tests during the firearms deer season, which opened Nov. 9.
Last week, after most firearms seasons ended in northern Minnesota, the DNR had collected about 4,000 samples. An additional 1,000 samples were to be collected during the Zone 3B either-sex season in southeastern Minnesota, which began Nov. 23.
The goal was to collect between 5,000 and 6,000 samples at selected registration stations across the state. The effort was as part of an ongoing surveillance program to determine if CWD is present in the state’s wild deer herd, according to Mike DonCarlos, research manager for the DNR Wildlife Division.
“Although we’re pleased with the overall number, we didn’t get as many deer as we expected at registration stations in southeast Minnesota,” DonCarlos said. “Right now, we’re not sure why. But it appears that hunters weren’t as concerned about CWD as we expected and didn’t bring deer to registration stations where sampling was being conducted.”
After this year’s analysis of all CWD test results, DNR wildlife officials will design future CWD sampling efforts. Next year, additional samples may be collected from permit areas where sample collection fell short this season.
“We will still be able to predict with 95 percent confidence if CWD exists at a 1 percent infection rate in permit areas where we hit our sampling goal,” DonCarlos said. “Precision may be slightly lower in permit areas where we fell short.”
RESULTS FROM THE AITKIN SURVEILLANCE AREA Additional test results from the nine-square-mile surveillance area near Aitkin have been received. So far, 103 of the 111 wild deer killed in the area have been tested. None have tested positive for CWD.
Meat from deer culled in the surveillance zone has been distributed to interested landowners and to a food shelf.
CWD, a fatal brain disease known to infect deer and elk, was discovered in a farmed elk near Aitkin in August. It has not been detected in the state’s wild deer herd.