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Minnesota’s fight against CWD in wild deer now will include two large December hunts

December 4, 2018

Minnesota has intensified its fight against chronic wasting disease (CWD) in wild deer by inviting hunters to harvest more whitetails in southeastern Minnesota.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced two special hunts for weekends before and after Christmas to lower deer densities in and around Fillmore County. The neurological disease, likened to mad cow disease in cattle, was first detected there in 2016 and has continued to spread outside the original boundaries of the outbreak.

DNR Wildlife Research Supervisor Lou Cornicelli said Tuesday the purpose of the hunts south of Interstate 90 is to lower the frequency of contact between deer and remove CWD-positive animals. The disease, carried by misfolded proteins known as prions, is spread deer-to-deer through direct contact with an infected deers saliva, urine, blood, feces, antler velvet or carcass.

This will be the third year in a row that the DNR has authorized extra hunting to cull the areas deer herd, but this years special hunt covers the largest territory to date.

Our map is definitely changing, Cornicelli said. Its a little bit larger than last year.

At least 10 new cases of CWD have been detected in the region this fall through a mandatory testing program run by the DNR. Two of those cases were in bucks shot outside of the original CWD management area. Cornicelli said roaming male deer threaten to spread the disease to new groups of female deer, who tend to live within the same home range throughout their lives.

The special hunts are set for Friday, Dec. 21, to Sunday, Dec. 23 and Friday, Dec. 28 to Sunday, Dec. 30. Resident and nonresident hunters will be allowed to harvest male and female deer throughout Fillmore County and in parts of neighboring Houston, Winona, Olmsted and Mower counties. The DNR has set no quota for the hunts.

The boundary includes Stewartville to the northwest, Lewiston to the northeast, Mabel to the southeast and Spring Valley to the west. The hunting zone extends from I-90 to the Iowa border.

While there is no evidence that humans can contract CWD, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends testing your deer for CWD. CDC recommends not eating meat from a known positive animal.

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