Deer hunters submitted about 500 additional samples for chronic wasting disease tests during the second weekend of Minnesota’s firearms deer season, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The firearms deer season began Nov. 9.

The DNR estimates that it has collected about 4,000 of the 5,000 to 6,000 total samples needed. A final tally of viable samples collected will not be available until lab results are complete.

The samples were collected at selected registration stations across the state as part of an ongoing surveillance program to determine if CWD is present in the state’s wild deer herd.

“We will now concentrate our efforts in Zone 3B (southeast Minnesota), where the antlerless deer season begins on Nov. 23,” said Ed Boggess, assistant director for the DNR Division of Wildlife. “Most of our sampling stations in northern and southwest Minnesota met their goals.”

DNR staff, tribal staff and volunteers were stationed at selected big-game registration stations in 16 permit areas around the state. Hunters who registered deer were asked to voluntarily submit their deer for sampling. Only deer that were one year old or older and harvested in certain areas were sampled.

According to early estimates, the majority of antlerless permit areas reached their goals of collecting approximately 360 samples in the first and second weekends of the firearms deer season. Several southeastern Minnesota stations will continue their efforts through the Zone 3B season, which runs from Nov. 23 through Nov. 29 in southeastern Minnesota.

“We hope to collect an additional 1,000 samples during that season,” Boggess said. “It is a popular season and we should be able to reach that goal.”

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.