No CWD Positive Deer Found in First Round of Tests

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The first batch of tests for chronic wasting disease in wild deer culled from the Aitkin area yielded no positives, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR received official results September 24 from 10 deer culled in the nine-square-mile area surrounding the farm where Minnesota's first case of chronic wasting disease was reported in a captive elk in late August.

More test results are expected in coming days. Additional samples will be submitted as deer are culled. Deer submitted for testing were taken by DNR shooting teams as well as archery hunters.

"Obviously this is good news and we're hopeful," said Mike DonCarlos, DNR wildlife research manager. "But there is still a large number of samples yet to be tested."

Samples from culled deer and deer submitted by archery hunters were processed at the DNR farmland wildlife research center in Madelia and sent to a U.S. Department of Agriculture certified laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

DNR shooting teams have taken 68 deer from the nine-square-mile area near Aitkin as of Tuesday morning. Two car-killed deer and five deer killed by archery hunters have also been submitted.

To supplement the sample size, the DNR recently issued several permits that allow landowners to shoot and submit deer for sampling. DNR shooting teams have been scaled back in recent days as fewer deer are being taken for sampling.

"We are pleased with the number of deer we've been able to take in this operation," said Dave Schad, the DNR's incident manager in Aitkin. "However, as we expected, deer are becoming more difficult to take. To get the largest sample possible, we decided to ask several landowners for their assistance."

DNR shooters are expected to remain in the field for at least the next week.

Venison from deer that do not test positive for CWD is being distributed to interested landowners and the Second Harvest Food Shelf, thanks to the assistance of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association and Farmers and Hunters to Feed the Hungry.

Archery hunters in permit area 154 are encouraged to submit their deer for CWD testing, provided they identify exactly where the deer was harvested. Archers in this permit area who take an adult deer and are willing to submit it for testing should, after registering their deer, remove the head with about six inches of the neck still attached and bring it to the Aitkin area wildlife office at 1200 Minnesota Avenue South as soon as possible.

If the head cannot be brought in right away, it should be refrigerated or put on ice in a cooler until it can be brought to the Aitkin area office. Hunters can contact the Aitkin office at (218) 927-6915 to make arrangements to drop off a sample.

In the Aitkin area (permit area 154), archery hunters will be able to use intensive harvest permits to take up to three additional antlerless deer. Because permit area 154 was recently added to the list of areas where intensive harvest permits will be available, it does not appear in the 2002 Hunting and Trapping Regulation handbook.