A new case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) was detected outside of the core outbreak area, one day after the Department of Natural Resources announced a stepped-up program to control the spread of the disease.
The two-year-old “presumptive positive” buck was harvested Nov. 17 on private land in far northern Houston County, 9.5 miles from the Wisconsin border. The site is 31 miles from Preston, the epicenter of Minnesota’s largest outbreak of CWD in wild deer, and 25 miles from the nearest deer linked to the outbreak.
If further testing confirms the disease, it will be the 29th case certified by tissue sampling since the outbreak was first detected in Fillmore County late in 2016. DNR officials notified the hunter of the initial test result and is making arrangements to pick up the meat and carcass. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends not eating meat from a known positive animal.
The DNR said CWD has never before been detected in Houston County. The hunter complied with a mandatory testing regulation set by the DNR in its wide-ranging surveillance for the disease.
DNR Wildlife Research Manager Lou Cornicelli said the suspect deer will be tested to determine if it is genetically related to Minnesota’s other CWD-positive whitetails. The buck was harvested 8.5 miles from a Winona County deer farm where a captive deer tested positive for CWD in 2017. CWD is prevalent in many areas of Wisconsin and the nearest known Wisconsin case is located 30 miles to the east.
Cornicelli said the new finding won’t change the timing or boundaries of two special deer hunts announced Tuesday for a large area around Fillmore County. The weekend hunts before and after Christmas, combined with upcoming federal sharpshooting of deer, are designed to cull the area’s deer herd to remove infected whitetails and slow the disease from spreading from animal to animal.