Five new cases of chronic wasting disease were confirmed Friday in Minnesota, including one of a wild deer in Dakota County. It’s the first evidence the disease has spread to the Dakota County area, about 100 miles northwest of the state’s hotbed for CWD in Preston, Minn.
“We’re hopeful the disease is not widespread in the area,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager.
The deer was reported by a resident near Farmington. The DNR will establish a management zone at least 15 miles surrounding where it was found. The agency will likely increase the number of hunting permits and extend the season in that area to thin the herd. Restrictions will be put in place on moving deer carcasses from the area and mandatory testing may be ordered. The DNR is also developing plans to sample deer until the fall hunting season, Cornicelli said.
The regulations will mirror those the DNR put in place in Crow Wing County after CWD was allowed to fester on a state-regulated deer farm for more than two years before it likely leaked out and infected a wild deer.
Test results also confirmed that the fatal neurological disease was in four deer from a Pine County game farm. The deer were destroyed early this year after two others from the same farm were found to be infected. All nine deer on the farm have now been killed and tested, according to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.
The board, which regulates the state’s roughly 370 deer farms, has declined to release the location and the name of the deer farm to the public, saying only that it is in Pine County. The farm sold an infected deer to a Douglas County deer farm late last year. The board has not disclosed the name or specific location of that farm either.
The owners of both game farms will not be allowed to keep any deer or elk on the sites for five years, a board spokeswoman said.
Scientists believe that prions shed in the environment are capable of transmitting CWD for years.