Minnesota sends nearly 17,000 hunters to Wisconsin each fall to hunt whitetails, but this year those who hunt in the northwestern counties of Barron, Burnett, Polk and Washburn can't bring whole, field-dressed deer back to Minnesota because a wild deer with chronic wasting disease was found last fall near Shell Lake, Wis.
Minnesota officials say hunters may only return here with cut and wrapped meat, quarters or other portions with no part of the spinal column or head attached. They also can return with antlers, hides, teeth, finished taxidermy mounts and antlers attached to skull caps that are cleaned of all brain tissue.
Wisconsin DNR officials will be collecting samples from deer killed by hunters in that area at registration stations in Spooner, Shell Lake and Barronett to check for CWD.
"The testing is voluntary,'' said Mark Rasmussen, CWD wildlife biologist.
The Minnesota DNR has collected 1,100 samples this fall from deer killed by hunters along the Wisconsin-Minnesota border but hasn't received test results back yet.
Meanwhile, deer harvested in CWD endemic areas elsewhere in Wisconsin also are subject to the Minnesota importation restrictions.
Deer baiting continues
Illegal deer baiting continues to be problematic in Minnesota, and DNR conservation officers have been issuing citations and seizing guns, bows and other equipment, and deer from violators. The DNR hasn't totalled the number of cases so far, but there have been 72 in just two of its four regions.
"We were surprised,'' said Phil Meier, DNR enforcement operations manager. Besides stiff fines and loss of their hunting equipment, hunters face more sanctions. "This year they'll be losing their hunting privileges for a year,'' he said.
One case occurred recently near Cromwell when two officers busted hunters who had scattered piles of carrots. Three bucks, a rifle and a motor vehicle were seized. In one deer stand was a book: "Poachers Caught."