MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Chronic Wasting Disease is a deadly brain disorder found in deer and elk. It was first discovered out in Colorado some 50 years ago.
CWD first made its presence known in Minnesota back in 2010 in a single deer in the southeastern part of the state. Since then, it has also been detected in 11 wild deer in other southeastern Minnesota counties, where surveillance has since been mandatory.
Now, that is about to change as two more captive deer on farms in Meeker and Crow Wing counties tested positive for CWD.
Brad Miller hunts near Aitkin, one of the areas in the new surveillance zones.
“Yes, I was kind of shocked when they said it could be in our area. I didn’t think it could get that far yet,” Miller said.
Because of the new cases, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is requiring all deer taken on opening weekend in the two areas be tested for any evidence of CWD. They want to determine if the disease has spread outside the two deer farms in Meeker and Crow Wing counties.
“It’s called chronic wasting disease because the animal just basically wastes away. They lose tremendous body weight until they just wither away,” says the DNR’s Steve Merchant.
For hunters getting licenses in Delano Thursday, news of the mandatory testing came as a surprise, however, they are on board.
“We want to keep our deer population healthy, and if that’s what it takes to do it, then we should do it,” hunter Darrell Smith said.
Hunters will first register their deer before bringing the entire carcass to a separate CWD sampling station. For hunters near Buffalo, that test site is the Wright County public works garage north of town.
“We’ve got a great interactive map on our DNR website where hunters can go and see where these test stations are,” Merchant said.
Technicians will remove the deer’s lymph glands from its neck. If the test is positive, hunters will be contacted and strongly urged not to consume the venison.
“Whatever makes it safer for the population and the hunters, it’s part of the game,” Smith said.
Complete information about the additional CWD testing process can be found on the DNR website.