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CWD found in wild deer

Published (1/28/2011)
By Sue Hegarty
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Preliminary findings confirm that Chronic Wasting Disease, a deadly brain and nervous system disorder found in deer, elk, and moose was found in a wild deer harvested near Pine Island.

Lou Cornicelli, big game program coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources told the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee Jan. 25 that previous disease cases had been confined to captive deer. The discovery set a surveillance protocol in motion that may result in deer-feeding restrictions and tap into the DNR Game and Fish Fund to help pay for containment and eradication.

Fifty cents of every deer hunting license goes into a special health account to pay for such efforts, but Ed Boggess, acting director of the DNR Fish and Wildlife Division, said there are more expenditures than revenue generated for health-related issues.

“This is really tragic news for our almost half-million deer hunters,” said Committee Chairman Denny McNamara (R-Hastings).

The discovery occurred during laboratory analysis of more than 500 samples taken from hunter harvested deer taken within a 20-mile radius of Pine Island in southeastern Minnesota. This is the only suspected case, and further analysis by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, is expected by the end of the week, Cornicelli said.

Time is of the essence, he added, because when weather conditions improve, deer will disperse, making further testing more difficult. DNR officials hope to complete an aerial survey to locate deer within a 10-mile radius of where the infected female deer was found.

Chronic Wasting Disease is spread by the transference of prion, a bad protein, and is not caused by a virus, fungus or bacteria. Prions can transfer between deer, elk or moose from nose-to-nose contact or lay active in the ground for years, perhaps decades, Cornicelli said.

No action was taken.

One of the next steps could be to ban recreational deer feeding, such as salt licks. More detailed information can be found on the DNR website.

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