The fight against chronic wasting disease (CWD) in southeastern Minnesota will intensify, the Department of Natural Resources said Friday.

Prompting the announcement, the DNR said, are 11 new cases of CWD infected deer that have been found this fall in the southeast in and around a special disease management zone in Fillmore County.

Because the DNR believes the only way to stop the spread of CWD is to minimize the number of deer in the area for the time being, the agency will offer two special December hunts, in addition to providing shooting permits to landowners and holding a sharpshooter culling effort in January.

A DNR meeting will be held in Preston  Dec. 18 to discuss CWD.

“The last thing people want is an established disease in their backyards,” said DNR reserarch manager Lou Cornicelli. “States that have CWD established in their wild deer populations have seen declines in both deer populations and deer hunter numbers. We’ll continue to do what we can to avoid that situation here.”

The disease management zone was established by the DNR after CWD was discovered in wild deer near Preston in 2016. The zone is an approximately 10-mile radius around Preston.

A total of 28 detected cases of the always fatal neurological disease have been detected within the zone.

Details of the two three-day December hunts wil be announced Dec. 4. Boundaries where hunting will be allowed and other information will be available that day on the DNR website at

The DNR also will survey hunters and landowners in the southeast to determine their attitudes about CWD and the DNR's response.

The  public meeting in Preston is scheduled for 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, in the Fillmore Central School Auditorium at 702 Chatfield St.