Minnesota DNR continues chronic wasting disease response with two special hunts

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has scheduled two special hunts in parts of southeastern Minnesota in December and January aimed at limiting the spread of chronic wasting disease in wild deer.

Residents and nonresidents can participate in the hunts from Saturday, Dec. 26, through Sunday, Dec. 27, and Saturday, Jan. 2, through Sunday, Jan 3, in deer permit area 343, the entire southeast management zone (deer permit areas 643, 645, 646, 647, 648, 649, 655) and the south metro management zone (deer permit area 605).

All hunters, including archers, who harvest deer in these deer permit areas during the special hunts must submit a sample from any harvested deer to a self-service sampling station for disease testing. In other 2020 deer hunting seasons, hunters in designated areas were strongly encouraged, but not required, to submit samples.

Not only do the special hunts help limit disease spread, they show where disease is more prevalent through hunter-harvested samples tested for CWD, Keller said. This helps the DNR determine where to focus management actions to help keep the deer herd healthy.

The special hunt areas were determined from disease detections from this fall’s hunting season and previous hunting seasons in southeastern Minnesota. Additional information about disease prevalence is needed through disease testing from these special hunts.

These hunts are part of the DNR’s three-pronged CWD management approach. Because the disease is spread through direct contact with an infected deer’s saliva, urine, blood, feces, antler velvet or carcass, reducing deer numbers in localized areas helps lower deer densities – the number of deer per square mile – and remove CWD-positive animals. The DNR also implements deer feeding and attractant bans to reduce the human-facilitated contact between deer, and restricts how hunters are allowed to move deer they harvest.

CWD affects the cervid family, which includes deer, elk and moose. There is no vaccine or treatment for this disease.

For more information on chronic wasting disease, including maps of CWD surveillance areas, frequently asked questions and hunter information, visit mndnr.gov/cwd.