One of the biggest fears of deer hunters in Crow Wing County has been realized. The Minnesota DNR has confirmed chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a wild deer in Crow Wing County. This test result marks the first time in Minnesota the fatal neurological disease has been found in a wild deer outside of the southeastern part of the state. Previous discoveries of the disease in wild deer have been concentrated predominantly in Fillmore County, with additional discoveries in Houston and Winona counties in the past two months.
So what’s next? The DNR is planning additional disease response actions, and Gov. Tim Walz is proposing new funding of $4.57 million over the next two fiscal years, and $1.1 million annually thereafter to combat the disease, including surveillance and response, enforcement, and outreach to landowners.
“It is our hope that we discovered the Crow Wing County infection early and can respond quickly with actions to eliminate the disease in this area. With this critical new funding, we will continue to work with private landowners, hunters and others to achieve our goal of maintaining a healthy deer herd and Minnesota’s treasured deer hunting experience.” Said DNR commissioner Sarah Strommen.
The deer, an adult female, was found in Merrifield, north of Brainerd, on Jan. 23. A conservation officer responded to a report of a deceased deer. The DNR tests suspect deer when possible, especially in areas of high risk. Test results confirmed the deer as positive for CWD on Feb. 14. The DNR began surveillance around a CWD-positive captive cervid facility near Merrifield starting in the 2017 hunting season. Over the last two years, the DNR has sampled more than 8,600 deer in this north-central surveillance zone, with no previous detections of CWD-positive deer.
What is CWD? CWD affects the cervid family, which includes deer, elk and moose. It is spread through direct contact with an infected deer’s saliva, urine, blood, feces, antler velvet or carcass. There is no vaccine or treatment for this disease. More information on CWD can be found here.