DNR will shift monitoring statewide after chronic wasting disease case turns up in Grand Rapids

22 March 2022

Minnesota wildlife officials will take a new, statewide approach to combat chronic wasting disease (CWD) in wild deer now that the always-fatal condition has been detected for the first time in a whitetail found dead in Grand Rapids.

“This new discovery doesn’t make CWD a statewide problem, but it does mean we need to take more of a statewide approach,” said Kelly Straka, wildlife section manager for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Until now, the DNR has taken management actions to fight CWD by area, wherever and whenever the disease is detected. The tactics in those zones have included mandatory testing of hunter-killed deer to track the disease. In addition, the DNR organizes extra hunting to thin local herds. As part of the same playbook, the department bans deer feeding and attractants in areas where CWD is found. Deer can transmit the disease to each other when they are in close contact.

Straka and DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said in a news release Tuesday that the agency will investigate options for all Minnesota deer hunters to test their doe or buck with a self-mailed kit. Until now, testing has taken place at staffed locations within special CWD zones or by visiting a self-service testing station in those areas.

The conventional testing method requires tissue from a dead deer, so hunter participation has been crucial. To enhance and expand that surveillance, the DNR said it will improve the current design for self-service stations and widen its tissue sampling partnership with taxidermists to cover the entire state.

Since 2002, the DNR has tested 106,000 deer statewide and 153 have tested positive. Most of those cases occurred in southeastern Minnesota, where fewer than 1% of deer have tested positive for CWD. With recent findings of CWD on a defunct deer farm northeast of Bemidji and now in a wild deer in Grand Rapids, there are eight general areas where CWD has been detected.

The DNR said the Grand Rapids case was confirmed by laboratory analysis last week after a resident reported in mid-February that an adult doe died in his backyard. The DNR said testing and examination of the carcass showed the animal was infected with CWD but died from injuries it suffered after colliding with a vehicle. The testing of random dead deer, including some killed in road accidents, for years has been part of DNR’s CWD surveillance program.

The agency said it will update its overall CWD response plan this spring.

“The DNR has taken an aggressive approach to managing CWD in Minnesota,” Strommen said. “The health of Minnesota’s wild deer herd remains a top priority for the DNR.”

This post was originally published on this site

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