Hundreds of Deer Killed in Minnesota to Investigate Whether CWD is Spreading


Researchers are looking for traces of CWD in deer carcasses to determine whether the disease in spreading or is limited to several individuals or a specific area.

Minnesota’s Department of National Resources opened whitetail hunting season on December 31st, 2016, after several deer in the area tested positive for CWD, short for chronic wasting disease. Once contracted, the condition proves fatal to elk, moose, and deer. The affection is also easily transmitted through the carrier’s bodily fluids or saliva. Furthermore, close contact with an infected subject is also believed to encourage CWD transmission. As a consequence, the Department of Natural Resources banned deer feeding in Houston, Winona, Mower, Fillmore, and Olmsted counties.

Hunting Season and Casualties

During the first three days of the whitetail season alone, hunters killed no less than 344 individuals. By January 15th, 2017, Minnesota officials hope 556 more will meet their end at the hands of the hunters. The extreme measure was adopted by the Department of Natural Resources after the disease claimed approximately 40,000 deer lives since 2002.

Now, the researchers are investigating whether the disease is spreading, or if it is limited to a specific area or just a few animals. Furthermore, there is no way of testing for CWD in live subjects.

Hunting Regulations

In an effort to reach the target, Minnesota officials allowed even those who do not have a permit to hunt deer. As of January 3rd, research manager Lou Cornicelli said that the agency is unsure about how many hunters are actively participating in the massive hunt since the season started. However, the Department of Natural Resources recorded almost 150 Minnesota nonresidents and 2,300 residents purchasing special disease management permits.

Hunters who kill deer are required to register their victims at DNR stations located in Wykoff, Reston, Lanesboro, or Chatfield. Even though a fifth station was established in Harmony, it was soon closed due to inactivity, according to Lou Cornicelli.

So far, the headcount hasn’t been completed. However, Cornicelli says there is no shortage of deer in the area. Glands removed from dead individuals are transported to Colorado State University for testing. However, apart from antlers without brain material, boned-out meat, and quarters with bone, the remaining carcass must remain in the area until a negative CWD test result is received.

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