7 Deer Test Positive For CWD At Merrifield Deer Farm

The January discovery of a CWD-positive wild deer carcass near Upper Mission Lake that sparked countywide controversy, has taken another turn.

Seven deer originating from a deer farm in Merrifield tested positive for chronic wasting disease, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health reported Wednesday, May 8.

The board received CWD test results from the “depopulation” of 112-acre Trophy Woods Ranch, which was first known to be infected by CWD in 2016 and has since registered numerous positive tests. On April 16, 102 deer were euthanized. All viable samples were sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory for CWD testing. Seven tested positive for CWD, 82 deer showed no CWD and in 13 cases, the tests were either unsuccessful or the animal was too decomposed.

“We appreciate the cooperation of the herd owner and the collaboration of the other state and federal partners we’ve worked with to depopulate this farm and get these CWD test results,” 

said Board Assistant Director Dr. Linda Glaser in a news release.

“The results give us a clearer picture of the disease prevalence on the farm as we continue our efforts to contain and eliminate any remaining infectious CWD prions in the enclosed property.”

Discovery of a CWD-positive wild deer carcass near Upper Mission Lake in January was the first case of a wild deer with CWD in Crow Wing County and discovered in close proximity to Trophy Woods Ranch. The infected whitetail deer, which was confirmed to have CWD in February, was never linked to the Merrifield ranch but did trigger community meetings and action from the USDA and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Some may be asking, was this the right move?

Depopulation is currently the best available management option to control CWD in deer or elk herds, the Board of Animal Health release stated. After a herd is euthanized there is still a risk of environmental contamination. The land will remain fenced and no farmed deer or elk may be housed on the site for a period of at least five years to reduce the risk of the disease being spread off the site. More on this is forthcoming for sure.

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