DNR Collects About 3,500 Samples For CWD Testing

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Deer hunters submitted about 3,500 samples for chronic wasting disease tests during the first weekend of Minnesota's firearms deer season, which began Saturday, Nov. 9, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR intends to collect between 5,000 and 6,000 total samples at selected registration stations across the state as part of an ongoing surveillance program to determine if CWD is in the state's wild deer herd.

"We had good success collecting samples in the northern permit areas," said Mike DonCarlos, research manager for the DNR Division of Wildlife. "It appears that hunter success was lower in the south and we didn't get as many samples there."

Volunteers, DNR staff and tribal staff were stationed at selected big-game registration stations in 17 permit areas around the state. Hunters who brought deer in for registration were asked to voluntarily submit their deer for sampling. Only deer that were one year old or older and harvested in certain areas were sampled.

According to early estimates, six of the 16 antlerless permit areas reached their goal of collecting about 360 samples in the first weekend of the firearms deer season. The remaining 10 permit areas will continue to collect samples throughout the firearms deer season or until their goals are reached.

In southeast Minnesota, sample collection will continue through the 3B firearms season, which is open from Nov. 23-29.

"We remain optimistic that we will reach our goal of collecting between 5,000 and 6,000 total samples during the firearms season," DonCarlos said. "We will have several more opportunities to collect samples, particularly in southeastern Minnesota during the 3B firearms season."

CWD, a fatal brain disease known to infect deer and elk, was discovered in a farmed elk near Aitkin in August. It has not been found in the state's wild deer herd. (Note) No additional results have been received from CWD tests on deer killed in the Aitkin area surveillance program. To date, test results have been received for 69 of 111 deer samples submitted for testing from the surveillance area. None were found CWD positive.)