ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota DNR announced that chronic wasting disease was confirmed in 22 wild deer out of the 7,682 samples collected during 2020 hunting seasons and 2021 special hunts.
All of the CWD-confirmed deer came from within current disease management zones. Samples were tested from hunter-harvested deer or opportunistic samples that came from deer killed by vehicles, or that were reported sick or found dead. Nineteen of the positives were from deer in the southeast management zone and three were from the south metro management zone.
CWD was not detected in the north-central disease management zone, the southeast control zone, or the surveillance areas put in place for the 2020 hunting season.
That includes the west-central CWD surveillance area of deer permit areas 213 and 273 around Alexandria. As of Feb. 1, a total of 446 samples were collected in the two local deer permit areas, with no CWD detected in the wild herd and no results pending.
“Though CWD is detected in Minnesota’s wild deer, our recent test results show that the disease prevalence remains relatively low,” Erik Hildebrand, DNR wildlife health specialist, said. “Keeping deer healthy is our priority, and we continue to take aggressive action in areas where the disease has been detected in wild deer and monitor for the disease in areas where there are elevated risks for CWD.”
When CWD is detected in captive or wild deer, the DNR establishes surveillance areas and tests wild deer for at least three years after the detection. It can take 1.5 to 3 years before a deer shows clinical symptoms of the disease.
The DNR will end surveillance in an area if three consecutive years of test results fail to confirm CWD, and an adequate number of deer are sampled.
The DNR moved to voluntary self-service sampling to limit crowds at sampling stations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The DNR set sampling goals that would allow the agency to confidently assess disease prevalence in an area.
The DNR said the majority of areas received enough samples to meet sampling goals, but some surveillance areas did not. The DNR will continue sampling for disease in these areas to enhance confidence about disease detection.
CWD test results, including locations of confirmed positive test results and statistics, are available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck.
For more information on chronic wasting disease, including maps of CWD surveillance areas, frequently asked questions and hunter information, visit mndnr.gov/cwd.