The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking people to refrain from picking up fawns that appear to be abandoned this spring.

Because of the risk of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), the DNR is imposing a two-year moratorium on raising and releasing deer back into the wild. All fawns picked up and turned in will be euthanized to prevent the spread of CWD.

“In the past, we’ve always recommended that people leave wild animals — especially deer — alone. It’s especially important this year,” said Mike DonCarlos, DNR wildlife research manager. “In nearly all cases, whitetail does have intentionally left the fawns alone to avoid attracting attention of predators.”

The possibility of spreading CWD prompted the DNR to amend licenses that allowed wildlife rehabilitators to raise wild whitetail deer. These deer were often fawns thought to be abandoned and picked up by well-meaning people.

Under the moratorium, wildlife rehabilitators licensed to possess live deer will be required to transfer deer to the DNR within 48 hours. Deer that are transferred to the DNR will be euthanized and tested for CWD.

Each year, about 80 deer are turned over to rehabilitators. About half of those deer are euthanized immediately for humane reasons. Deer that are successfully rehabilitated are often moved to rehabilitation facilities and eventually released far from their birth site.

There are about 70 wildlife rehabilitators who are licensed to possess live deer for 48 hours.

In recent surveillance testing for CWD in Wisconsin, six fawns, ages 5 to 12 months, tested positive for the disease. All of the fawns came from the core areas of CWD eradication within Wisconsin, where the highest number of CWD positive deer have been identified.

The moratorium on white tailed deer rehabilitation will be reviewed in two years, when the major portion of the state’s CWD surveillance program is complete.

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