Deer feeding has been banned in more sections of central Minnesota under the state’s updated response to the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD).
The Department of Natural Resources this week adjusted the feeding ban to include seven new counties: Carlton, Chisago, Douglas, Isanti, Kanabec, Pine and Pope. The expansion is related to the discoveries of CWD late last year inside two captive deer facilities — one in Douglas County and one in Pine County.
Those deer farms agreed to go out of business, but DNR’s wildlife research team is following up with surveillance of wild deer in surrounding areas. In at least three previous cases in Minnesota, the DNR found that CWD spread from infected deer farms to whitetails outside those enclosures.
The feeding bans have become customary in areas considered to be at higher risk for the spread of CWD. That is because the animals gather around feed and attractants, creating the kind of close contact capable of spreading the infectious disease.
“We’re asking all Minnesotans to help prevent the spread of this deadly disease by following these feeding and attractant bans,’’ said Barbara Keller, DNR Big Game Program leader, in a news release.
The DNR only bans deer attractants in areas where CWD has been detected in wild deer. Attractants can be natural or manufactured and include salt licks, mineral blocks, and items containing deer urine, blood, gland oil, feces or other bodily fluid. They are currently banned in Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Hubbard, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Mower, Olmsted, Steele, Todd, Wabasha, Wadena and Winona counties.
In counties where deer feeding is banned, people need to remove any grains, fruits, nuts and other food that entices deer, the DNR said. “People who feed birds or small mammals need to make sure that deer cannot access the food ... keeping feed at least 6 feet above ground level,’’ the agency announced.
Starting July 1, the DNR said it will remove its deer-feeding ban from Kandiyohi, McLeod, Meeker, Renville and Wright counties. In those areas, three years of surveillance by DNR did not detect CWD in wild deer.
The Board of Animal Health continues to investigate the CWD outbreak on the farms in Douglas and Pine counties. The Douglas herd was assembled in early 2019 and a doe in that herd, sourced from the Pine County herd, was confirmed positive for CWD in December.
Since then, at least one doe in the Pine County herd was confirmed to be CWD-positive. Additional test results from the farm are pending.