The disease-troubled captive deer facility in Crow Wing County that poses a threat to the area’s wild deer population has once again tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD), the Minnesota Board of Animal Health announced late last week.

Four more deer in the facility, including two mule deer, were recently found to be infected. Dr. Linda Glaser, assistant director of the Board of Animal Health, said the agency will extend its monitoring of the herd because of the recurrence. CWD was first detected in two white-tailed deer at the pay-to-hunt ranch in 2016.

The initial detection caused the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to conduct ongoing surveillance of wild deer in the surrounding area. Hunters in the area were ordered to have their opening-weekend deer tested for CWD this year and last. Not all results are complete for 2018, but the first 8,500 samples tested negative.

Still, DNR wildlife researchers are concerned the disease could spread to wild deer. Glaser said officials are considering pursuing a federal buyout to eliminate the herd if funding and other hurdles can be cleared.

Deer harvest

The slow start to Minnesota’s traditional firearms deer season continued over the first five days, a DNR wildlife official said Tuesday.

As of one week ago, the latest period for which statistics were available, hunters harvested 84,255 whitetails, down 13.8 percent statewide from last year’s five-day mark. Erik Thorson, DNR’s acting big game program leader, said deer registrations for each of the first five days of the season were down from a year ago despite generally favorable hunting conditions. Gusty winds were an issue starting Monday.

The harvest decline has surprised game officials and other whitetail watchers who expected an overall, double-digit increase based on evidence of greater deer abundance. The northeast region has reported the largest deficit in filled tags.


Hard Water Expo

Professional anglers will provide ice fishing tips and tricks Friday through Sunday at the Hard Water Expo inside the National Sports Center in Blaine. More than 65 vendors will showcase their services and wares, including the largest supply of wheelhouses at any ice fishing show in the U.S., organizers said.

Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for students and free to kids 11 and under. Hours will be 2-8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.