Minnesota deer hunters must bring their harvested deer to sampling stations to be tested for chronic wasting disease in the central surveillance area, north-central and southeast management zones, and the southeast control zone on opening weekend of firearms deer season Saturday, Nov. 9, and Sunday, Nov. 10. A map of the zones is available at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Testing is also required throughout all deer seasons in both the north-central and southeast disease management zones (600-series permit areas); and during the opening weekend of the B firearms season Saturday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 24, in the southeast disease control zone (permit areas 255, 343 and 344).

This mandatory testing is part of the Department of Natural Resources approach to limit the spread of the disease and keep Minnesota’s wild deer population healthy. The DNR conducts the testing in areas where CWD has been discovered in wild or captive white-tailed deer.

“Protecting our white-tailed deer population is a shared responsibility, and we’re thankful for hunters who help combat CWD by submitting samples,” said Michelle Carstensen, wildlife health program supervisor. “These samples provide data that help us better understand the prevalence of the disease in wild deer in these areas.”

The mandatory sampling requirements mean that after field dressing their deer, all hunters in disease management zones, control zones or the central surveillance area need to take them to a sampling station. DNR staff will remove lymph nodes, and the DNR will submit the tissue for laboratory testing. Hunters should check the chronic wasting disease page to find the permit areas where sampling is required.

Hunters must register their deer prior to sampling – whether by phone, internet or in person – as harvest registration will not be available at CWD sampling stations.

Hunters can check for their CWD test results online at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck by entering their nine-digit DNR number from the deer’s site tag.

Carcass movement restrictions in place

The DNR reminds hunters who harvest deer in the disease management and control zones in north-central and southeast Minnesota that carcass movement restrictions remain in place. Whole deer carcasses cannot be removed from the area until a “not detected” test result is received. The following parts of deer may leave a CWD management zone before a “not detected” test result is confirmed: 

- Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached; the main leg bone can remain in each quarter.

- Meat that is boned out or that is cut and wrapped (either commercially or privately).

- Hides and teeth.

- Antlers or clean (no brain tissue attached) skull plates with antlers attached.

Details of these restrictions are available online. 

To help hunters comply with these restrictions, the DNR has set up carcass disposal locations where hunters can properly dispose of deer remains. After quartering or de-boning the meat so it is free of brain and spinal column material, hunters can then immediately move the meat or quarters out of the CWD area. Hunters can find the current list of disposal locations on their respective CWD surveillance area pages. There will not be a refrigerated trailer for storing deer carcasses in the Preston area this year.

Voluntary CWD testing

Hunters not in a mandatory testing area can collect their own lymph node sample and submit it for testing to the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Minnesota for a fee. A DNR video showing how to collect a lymph node sample is available on the DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Additional CWD information

Keeping Minnesota’s wild deer population healthy remains the goal in the DNR’s response to chronic wasting disease. Since CWD was first detected in Minnesota in 2002, the DNR has tested more than 71,000 wild deer in the state. To date, 52 wild deer have tested positive for CWD in Minnesota. Test results, including locations of confirmed positive test results and statistics, are available on the DNR website.

As part of its response plan, the DNR is monitoring for CWD in disease management zones around areas where the disease has been detected in wild deer, as well as in a CWD surveillance area where it was found in captive deer. The disease management zones are located in southeast and north-central Minnesota; the surveillance area is located in central Minnesota. The southeast disease control zone is made up of three permit areas bordering the southeast management zone.

CWD affects the cervid family, which includes deer, elk and moose. It is spread through direct contact with an infected deer’s saliva, urine, blood, feces, antler velvet or carcass. There is no vaccine or treatment for this disease.

For more information on CWD, including maps of surveillance areas, frequently asked questions and hunter information, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us.

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