An archery hunter near Preston, Minn., shot a buck on the opening weekend of the season that tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD), the Department of Natural Resources reported today.

DNR Wildlife Research Manager Lou Cornicelli said the 3-year-old whitetail was among the first nine deer to be tested for CWD this season. The tests are  mandatory for any deer harvested this year in Zone 603, a known risk area for the disease established by the DNR three years ago. The zone covers Fillmore County and its fringes.

Since the fall of 2016, 18 deer harvested in the zone have now tested positive for the always fatal neurological disease. Besides requiring each deer harvested in the zone to be tested, the DNR has overseen an aggressive harvest to thin the local herd to reduce spreading of CWD.

In addition, state wildlife officials have banned hunters from exporting deer out of the management zone without quartering the carcasses. The regulation allows for proper proposal of spinal and brain tissue potentially containing prions that cause the disease.

Cornicelli said the latest discovery highlights the importance and necessity of the state’s disease surveillance efforts. “We’re appreciative of hunters’ willingness to help us combat CWD by complying with mandatory sampling regulations and carcass movement restrictions,’’ he said.

In the most recent case, the hunter near Preston was issued a new buck tag as a reward for his cooperation.