Chronic Wasting Disease management

DNR asks hunters to continue CWD testing

DNR wants to keep testing deer harvested in permit areas 347 and 348. Hunters should follow the instructions to complete a simple form and place it – along with the head of a harvested deer – in drop boxes located at:

No additional deer test positive; public meeting planned

Map showing location of CWD check stations in southeastern Minnesota during 2016

No additional deer have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease from samples collected this fall in southeastern Minnesota.

Nearly one-third of all deer harvested during southeastern Minnesota's first firearms deer season and the first three days of the second season were tested. Only two of the 2,866 deer tested returned positive results. Both were harvested about 1 mile apart west of Lanesboro in deer permit area 348.

DNR already has begun implementing the state's CWD response plan, which will include a December public meeting announcing response plan details.

We will be working closely with landowners and other organizations – as well as hunters – to develop and implement disease management strategies that will protect the state's deer herd and provide hunters the opportunity to pass on their deer hunting traditions.

Questions & answers (click to view or hide)

  • What should hunters do?

  • With the muzzleloader deer season stretching into mid-December and archery season open through Saturday, Dec. 31, hunters should take these recommended precautions when harvesting deer:

    • Do not shoot, handle or consume any animal that is acting abnormally or appears to be sick.
    • If you do shoot a deer that acted abnormally or appeared emaciated, please report the harvest to your area DNR office;
    • Wear latex or rubber gloves when field dressing your deer;
    • Bone out the meat from your animal. Don?t saw through bone, and avoid cutting through the brain or spinal cord (backbone);
    • Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues;
    • Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed;
    • Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of harvested animals. Normal field dressing coupled with boning out a carcass will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will remove remaining lymph nodes;
    • If you have your deer or elk commercially processed, request that your animal is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to meat from your animal; and
    • When cooking any food – game or otherwise – cook to recommended temperatures.

  • How can I stay informed?

  • DNR will regularly update CWD information on its website. You can automatically receive an email when new information becomes available using the signup box at right. We'll also work to keep landowners, hunters and citizens engaged and informed through news outlets, Facebook and Twitter.

  • How is DNR responding?

  • DNR has a plan in place to address the disease. Since 2002, the agency has tested more than 50,000 deer, elk and moose as part of an early detection disease surveillance strategy.

    We've been aggressively looking for the disease because it is difficult to eliminate and expensive to manage. The best chance for management success is to detect the disease quickly and act aggressively. The longer CWD exists in a deer population, the less chance there is of elimination.

    DNR is in the process of developing more specific CWD management actions. We will engage and fully inform the affected communities – particularly landowners – as we develop and implement quick and aggressive response actions that can limit the spread of the disease.

  • What's next & how can I help?

  • Cooperation is the key to successful disease management. Without the voluntary help of more than 2,000 hunters, this new discovery of CWD would not have occured.

    Collecting more deer samples from southeastern Minnesota, banning feeding and creating a disease management zone all are likely next steps. Deer removal options could include a late deer hunt, landowner shooting permits and/or sharpshooting in conjunction with cooperating landowners who provide permission.

Prevention is the best approach

Yellow areas indicate locations in the United States and Canada infected with CWD.

CWD in North America

DNR conducts CWD surveillance to keep Minnesota deer healthy. The prevalence and geographic spread of CWD is increasing. Taking steps to better protect deer from disease is vital to Minnesota's hunting tradition and economy.

An additional protection prevents whole carcasses of deer, elk, moose and caribou from anywhere in North America to be brought in to Minnesota. Until August 2016, whole carcasses could be brought in if they were not harvested in an area infected with CWD.

Recent focused surveillance efforts

2014: Triggered by the detection of several CWD-infected deer in 2014 from Iowa's Allamakee County, the Minnesota DNR collected 411 samples in southeastern Minnesota deer permit areas 348 and 349. All test results were negative.

2012-2014: In mid-2012, a captive European red deer (Cervus elaphus) was found infected with CWD in a herd of approximately 400 animals from North Oaks. In response, DNR collected samples from 350 deer, all within a 10-mile radius of the farm on the northeastern edge of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. All test results were negative.

What is CWD?

The ribs of this emaciated male deer are clearly visible, an indication it is infected with CWD.

A deer infected with CWD

CWD is a contagious neurological disease affecting deer, elk and moose. It causes a characteristic spongy degeneration of the brains of infected animals resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and death.

CWD belongs to a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Within this family of diseases, there are several other variants that affect domestic animals:

  • Scrapie, which has been identified in domestic sheep and goats for more than 200 years;
  • Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle (also known as "mad cow disease"); and
  • Transmissible mink encephalopathy in farmed mink.


More information