The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced Monday that during the opening weekend of firearms season, a deer was harvested that has since tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD).

CWD affects cervids, which include white-tailed deer, moose, and elk, and has no known cure. It is found in more than half of the states in the U.S.

According to the DNR, the hunter harvested the adult male deer near Wabasha in southeastern Minnesota. This is deer permit area (DPA) 342, located within the southeastern Minnesota CWD surveillance zone where hunters were required to have their deer tested for CWD during the opening weekend of firearms season.

The DNR says they had added DPA 342 to the CWD surveillance zone this year in response to detections of CWD in wild deer in bordering Buffalo County, Wisconsin in 2022.

“This discovery in southeastern Minnesota, while unwelcome news, highlights the importance and necessity of our disease surveillance efforts,” said Erik Hildebrand, Minnesota DNR wildlife health supervisor. “We truly appreciate hunters’ help in combatting CWD by getting their deer tested for CWD when required and complying with carcass movement restrictions. Results of these efforts help limit disease spread and protect the health of Minnesota’s white-tailed deer.”

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What happens now? Well, with this discovery, the DNR’s current CWD response plan calls for three years of mandatory testing to help determine the potential prevalence of the disease in DPA 342 and surrounding DPAs.

It's important to note that much of southeastern Minnesota includes areas where CWD has been found in wild deer or areas that are considered at risk for disease transmission. Statewide, the Minnesota DNR has tested more than 130,000 deer since 2002. As of November 27, 236 have tested positive and the majority of those cases occurred in southeastern Minnesota. Therefore, the data indicates the disease remains relatively rare in Minnesota.

More information about chronic wasting disease, what the DNR is doing to limit disease spread and protect the health of Minnesota’s white-tailed deer, and information for hunters about current and upcoming hunting seasons, is available on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.

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