Chronic Wasting Disease Dominates The Conversation At The DNR’s Recent Open House
Chronic wasting disease is a fatal contagious neurological disease that affects deer, elk, and moose. This past January, Crow Wing County found its first case of chronic wasting disease in the deer population.
At the Department of Natural Resources’ recent open house meeting, talks about chronic wasting disease dominated the conversation. After the DNR found the disease in Crow Wing County, they allowed land owners to harvest deer for testing if they lived within two miles of where the infected deer was found. Eighty deer were collected, and so far, there is no sign of the disease.
“So far, tests are back for 65 of those deer, and they’ve all come back not infected; we’re still pending on the remaining deer,” Christine Reisz, Brainerd Area Wildlife Supervisor, said. “There is a possibility of us controlling the disease, so expect us to set up a disease management zone similar to what they’ve done in the southeast, and there will be mandatory testing within that zone for all hunting season next fall.”
To ensure that chronic wasting disease is no longer present in the deer population, Crow Wing County will be setting up testing sites over the next few years during hunting season. Any deer that is killed in zone 247 will have to be tested until the DNR is confident that chronic wasting disease is no longer present.
“Right now, this is really the only tool we have in our tool box to combat this disease,” Nathan Thom, Assistant Brainerd Area Wildlife Manager, said. “Science is working hard to get other ways to combat the disease – it takes time, just like a cure for cancer.”
The DNR is also proposing to expand the youth hunting season to 16- and 17-year-olds. As of now, only hunters 15 and under can participate in the youth season.