Test results from 103 wild deer killed so far near an Aitkin County farm show no evidence of chronic wasting disease, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday.

At least eight more deer from that 9-square-mile area remain to be tested for the incurable ailment that strikes deer and elk.

After a captive bull elk died of it at the farm in August, the DNR organized an effort to kill and test area deer to determine whether the disease has spread into the wild herd.

Statewide, the agency estimates it has collected 4,700 samples for CWD tests, a level slightly lower than its goal of 5,000 to 6,000. It has not received as many deer as it expected from the southeast part of the state, said Mike DonCarlos, DNR wildlife research manager.

“Right now, we’re not sure why,” DonCarlos said. “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.”

Nonetheless, he said the samples should provide a fairly good picture of whether the disease exists in the wild in Minnesota.

“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.”

Next year, he said additional samples may be collected from permit areas where samples fell short this season.

Article lookup by year