Two more special deer hunts will be held in coming weeks in southeastern Minnesota in another attempt to limit the spread of deadly chronic wasting disease (CWD), the state’s Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday.
The additional late-season hunts come on the heels of a wild adult male deer in Houston County testing positive for the neurological disease. The buck was shot during the opening weekend of the 2018 firearms deer season, and its CWD was confirmed in December, the DNR said.
The DNR and the Minnesota Board of Animal Health will meet with the public on Jan. 15 at the Tau Center Rotunda at Winona State University. There they will discuss any updates regarding wild deer and the Winona County deer farm where animals tested positive for the disease in December 2017.
Meanwhile, the DNR said the Jan. 25-27 and Feb. 1-3 hunts will take place in the large swath of land in permit zone 346, part of Houston and Winona counties where diseased deer have been found.
Hunters, both residents and nonresidents, can participate.
DNR officials stressed that most land in the hunt areas is privately owned and permission must be gained for access.
Public hunting areas open during the regular deer season also will be open for the special hunts, including Great River Bluffs State Park and King’s and Queen’s Bluffs Scientific and Natural Area.
“Gathering samples from this larger range will give us a better idea of whether additional wild deer in the area have been infected with CWD,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager.
All deer hunted must be brought to a DNR check station to be tested for the disease.
DNR biologists will try to determine if the wild deer was part of a large breakout or simply an outlier.
“Adult male deer travel long distances, and we don’t know the origin of this deer, so it is important to collect samples over a broad geographic area to get a better picture of CWD in this particular area,” Cornicelli said in a statement.