Deer tested in Minnesota show no signs of CWD
ST. PAUL - None of the more than 2,300 deer tested for chronic wasting disease in three specific areas of Minnesota have tested positive for the disease, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reports.
Deer were tested around Pine Island as part of the DNR's ongoing CWD surveillance and disease management efforts. Deer also were tested as a precaution in east-central Minnesota because the disease was discovered in wild deer from nearby Wisconsin. Testing was done in the north metropolitan area because a captive European red deer herd in North Oaks tested positive for the disease.
Testing will continue in southeastern Minnesota and the north metropolitan area. Surveillance in deer permit areas 159, 183, 225 and St. Croix State Park will be discontinued.
"The results are encouraging in southeastern Minnesota," said Michelle Carstensen, DNR wildlife health program director. "To date, the only CWD positive deer we've found is the one discovered from the 2010 hunting season that prompted our surveillance."
Documented CWD appeared in the state's wild herd after an area hunter shot a deer near Pine Island in November 2010. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said then a preliminary screening test was positive, so test samples were sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.
"This is very unfortunate," DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said at the time. "Minnesotans have done much to prevent CWD from entering our wild deer population. The good news is that we are well prepared for an attempt to control the disease and to possibly eliminate it."
The DNR immediately implemented its CWD response plan. Testing over several seasons is part of that plan.
In the southeast, 1,195 deer tested negative for the disease in the CWD management zone during 2012, marking the second consecutive year of no positives being detected. Deer tested were shot during archery, firearm and muzzleloader seasons.
"Cooperation from hunters has been outstanding," said Erik Hildebrand, DNR wildlife health specialist. "There is a lot of support for ensuring Minnesota has a healthy deer herd in the southeast."
A helicopter survey conducted in early March within the CWD management zone indicated the objective of reducing deer population density in deer permit area 602 has been met. As a result, the area will be designated as intensive rather than unlimited for this fall's hunt, allowing hunters to harvest up to five deer.
"A shift away from unlimited antlerless harvest to an intensive designation reflects recent survey results but continues our focus on managing densities while the area is still under CWD surveillance," said Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program coordinator.
In east-central Minnesota, 1,092 samples were collected during the opening weekend of the firearm deer season. In the north metro area, 180 deer that were killed by vehicles, removed through city deer reduction permits or harvested by archery hunters in the both Ramsey and Anoka counties were tested.
"The thousands of hunters who willingly donated a sample for the disease surveillance effort make these tests possible," Carstensen said. "We appreciate hunter commitment to ensuring the health of Minnesota's wild deer population and the help of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, both of which make DNR disease surveillance efforts much easier."