Chronic wasting disease was confirmed in 27 additional wild deer in Minnesota, all from southeastern counties, after testing conducted during the regular November deer season and special hunts held in recent months, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported this week.
CWD was not detected in any new deer in central and north-central Minnesota in the most recent round of testing.
“Overall, this is good news for Minnesota’s wild deer. The disease is still relatively rare across the state, and the CWD-positive test results this year came from areas where we had the most risk,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager.
In total, 12,618 hunter-harvested deer were tested in the southeast disease management and control zones, 3,965 in the north-central disease management zone and 536 in the central surveillance area.
This was the third year of sampling in the north-central area, after the discovery of CWD in a deer farm in Crow Wing County near Brainerd. More than 8,000 wild deer were tested during fall 2017 and 2018 without any detection of CWD; however, one wild CWD-positive deer was found dead near the infected farm in January 2019, which sparked more aggressive control strategies.
All of the animals on the deer farm have since been destroyed or died, several of them testing positive for CWD.
The Crow Wing County management zone, deer permit area 604, will remain in place for at least two more years to see if CWD is found in other wild deer in the area.
In February, the DNR will work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services to complete targeted culling in localized areas in the southeast where CWD has been detected in wild deer. Reducing deer densities in these areas reduces the risk of disease spreading.
CWD is an always-fatal neurological disease that affects the cervidae family, which includes deer, elk and moose. Since CWD was first detected in a captive elk in Minnesota in 2002, the DNR has tested more than 90,000 wild deer in the state. To date, 79 wild deer have been confirmed positive for CWD in Minnesota. Several deer farm animals also have tested positive for CWD.