The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is planning extensive CWD testing during the upcoming firearms deer season. Section of Wildlife staff hope to collect upwards of 13,000 samples this year. Sampling will occur at over 130 big game registration stations in 60 permit areas located in the northwest, northeast, east-central and west-central portions of the state. A map detailing the permit areas can be found at: www.dnr.state.mn.us/mammals/deer/cwd/testingstations.html.
All hunters who turn in a sample will receive a cooperator patch and be automatically entered in a drawing to win one of several firearms and bows that are being provided as an incentive from the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Gander Mountain, Bluffland Whitetails Association, Austin-Halleck, and the Minnesota Sport Archery Association.
All registration stations will be open Nov. 8-9. Some will be open Nov. 15-16, Nov. 22-23, and Nov. 29-30 depending on achievement of sampling goals. Hunters should contact their local wildlife office to find out when their check station will be operating.
Cornicelli said a streamlined sampling process will help staff collect the additional samples this year, although weather and hunter success will still play a large role in the effort’s success.
“We made several refinements that should make the process more efficient this year,” Cornicelli said. “Deer permit areas have been clustered so more deer that arrive at a DNR staffed registration will be sampled. We have also streamlined the data collection process, which should allow hunters to get in and out of the registration station quickly.”
Also different from last year’s procedure will be the type of test run on samples, Cornicelli said. This year a lymph node will be removed from the harvested deer’s head for testing rather than brain stem tissue. The deer’s head will still need to be removed at the registration station. Fawns will not be tested because the prevalence rate of the disease is so low it can’t be detected with reliability at that age.
Cornicelli reminded hunters that they must present the deer at the time of registration to legally comply with the registration requirements.
Hunters who harvest deer outside areas where the DNR is collecting samples and who are interested in getting their deer tested will again be able to submit a sample through their local veterinarian. The list is available on the DNR Web site.
So far, CWD in Minnesota has been found only in farmed elk. One elk tested positive for CWD after it died on an Aitkin County farm in August 2002. A second elk, which was part of a herd where the Aitkin elk originated, tested positive after it was quarantined and killed for testing on a Stearns County farm in January 2003. While CWD has not been found in Minnesota’s wild deer herd, hunters should follow these precautions:
- Do not shoot an animal that is acting abnormally or appears to be sick; contact the local DNR conservation officer or DNR wildlife office immediately so an attempt can be made to find and dispatch the animal for testing
- Wear durable rubber gloves when field dressing carcasses and wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing
- Bone out the meat from the animal; don’t saw through bone and avoid cutting through the brain or backbone
- Do not consume brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils or lymph nodes. The normal process of boning meat will remove most, if not all of these tissues.
Testing results will be available at the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us once the sampling for the permit area is completed.