2004 Deer Test Negative for CWD

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No positives were found in tests for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) of nearly 13,000 lymph node samples taken from wild deer harvested during the 2004 deer season, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today.

CWD testing of hunter-harvested deer is complete. Since 2001, the DNR has tested nearly 30,000 wild deer for CWD. The disease has never been detected in the state's wild deer herd.

"After three years of intensive sampling, we're very pleased not to have found CWD in any of Minnesota's wild deer," said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator. "We're also grateful for the cooperation we received from hunters, volunteers and organizations throughout this extensive testing process."

CWD is a fatal disease that attacks the brain tissues in deer and elk causing lethargy, disorientation and emaciation. CWD was detected in two farmed elk in Aitkin and Stearns counties in 2002 and 2003, respectively.

Efforts to monitor for CWD in wild deer will now focus on collecting samples from deer that are found sick or displaying symptoms consistent with CWD. "Although we're relieved that our statewide surveillance has not found CWD in wild deer, we need to continue long-term monitoring efforts," said Mike DonCarlos, DNR wildlife program manager.

The 2004 CWD effort involved more than 500 people from DNR, University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Natural Resources, North Dakota State University, Minnesota Conservation Corps, St. Cloud State University, Vermillion Community College, Fond du Lac and 1854 Authorities, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other universities and volunteers. The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Minnesota is conducting all the tests.

Hunters who volunteered a sample this year received a DNR cooperator patch and were placed in a drawing to win one of several firearms and bows being offered by Gander Mountain, Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Cabela's, the Minnesota State Archery Association, the Minnesota Bowhunters Inc., Sportsmans Warehouse, and Austin-Halleck muzzleloaders. MDHA has completed the drawing and the winners have been notified.

"I'd like to thank the organizations for their generous donations, the hunters for donating the samples, and the many volunteers who stepped up to help", Cornicelli said. He said that the cooperation was outstanding and he is encouraged that statewide surveillance has been completed.

CWD testing results by permit area are available on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.