By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Nearly 500,000 hunters are getting ready for the deer rifle opener Saturday.

With the number of deer on the rise, the DNR is expecting a good harvest this year, but they’ll also be asking hunters to keep an eye out for a disease that affects the deer population.

There’s now concern that chronic wasting disease could hit the state’s deer herds. Two years ago it was found in southeastern Minnesota.

In Wisconsin, it’s become even more of a concern. Chronic wasting disease was first reported there 16 years ago, and now it’s spread across the lower part of the state.

The neurological disease affects the deer’s brain and most don’t live more than two years after contracting CWD. That’s why the DNR is asking any hunter that gets a deer in a surveillance area to bring it to a testing station.

“I hunt in Wisconsin as well, and I know I can’t bring it back across without getting it checked out and everything,” said hunter Jake Rule.

Which is why Jake has no problem getting his deer tested.

“Obviously you don’t want chronic wasting disease in your deer population and all your deer disappearing. I’ve never had a deer that had it or seen anything yet,” he said.

There’s no vaccine for chronicle wasting disease. In addition to deer, it affects elk and moose but does not affect humans.

John Lauritsen