North central Minnesota CWD management zone (DPA 604)

General information

The DNR conducted surveillance around a CWD-positive captive cervid facility near Merrifield starting in the 2017 hunting season. In February 2019, the DNR confirmed chronic wasting disease in a wild deer found in Crow Wing County less than 0.5 miles from the infected captive facility. Based on this discovery, the DNR designated a new CWD management zone, deer permit area 604, in north central Minnesota for the 2019 hunting season.

Minnesota’s CWD management zones were designated due to the detection of CWD in wild deer. The intent of management strategies in CWD management zones is to: increase hunting opportunities with liberalized bag limits to reduce deer densities; limit the potential for disease transmission; and remove any additional positive deer from the landscape.

Map highlighting the DPA included in the north central CWD management zone: 604.

Map of the north central disease management zone

Interactive map

2019 hunting information

CWD sampling and testing

CWD sampling is mandatory for all deer harvested in this CWD management zone. CWD sampling stations are available during all seasons.

  • During the firearms seasons, hunters must present all deer in person at a CWD sampling station for mandatory sampling ; fawns must be presented to confirm age and will only be tested upon voluntary submission. A special carcass tag will be attached to the deer to verify sampling and/or age.
  • During archery and muzzleloader seasons, hunters must submit the heads of all adult deer (1-year-old or older) at one of the self-service sampling locations.
  • You will need to provide the township, section and range of your harvest location.

The time it takes to receive test results for deer sampled for CWD will vary depending on the number of samples collected. Process your deer as you normally would. Keep processed deer separate and identifiable until test results are received.

Test results for all deer that are sampled will be available online at

What can I harvest?

  • Either sex with a regular license.
  • May use a Statewide (A) or a Late Southeast (B) license during any firearms season.
  • In the north central CWD management zone DPA 604, hunters may harvest only one buck per year.
  • Hunters may harvest an unlimited number of antlerless deer by purchasing an unlimited number of disease management tags for $2.50 to take antlerless deer. These tags may be used instead of bonus permits to take antlerless deer in this area.

Is this area affected by carcass movement restrictions?

Yes. Deer carcass movement restrictions apply during all seasons for all deer, including fawns.

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2019 sampling locations for archery, muzzleloader and firearms

Sampling stations in the north central CWD management zone (604)

Map highlighting the DPA included in the north central CWD management zone (604) and sampling stations.

  • Archery and muzzleloader seasons: All locations have self-service sampling stations available 24/7 during archery, muzzleloader and unstaffed portions of the firearms seasons. Look for an orange "CWD Sampling Station" sign and black barrel (examples: image 1image 2).
  • Firearms seasons: Locations will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. during Nov. 9-24.
AitkinAitkin DNR Wildlife Office1200 Minnesota Ave. S.
Aitkin, MN 56431
BrainerdBrainerd DNR Wildlife Office1601 Minnesota Drive
Brainerd, MN 56401
CrosbyCroft Mine Historical Park23150 Minnesota Highway 6, Crosby, MN 56441
(parking lot 250 yards east of address)
EmilyEmily Volunteer Fire Department20823 County Highway 1
Emily, MN 56447
NisswaEast Side Public Water Access for Gull Lake5056 Nashway Road
Nisswa, MN 56468
Pine RiverCass County Fairgrounds525 First Street North
Pine River, MN 56474

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What do I do with my carcass after sampling?

After providing a deer sample, deer carcasses must be disposed of properly to meet deer carcass movement restrictions

To help hunters comply with these legal carcass movement restrictions, the DNR set up dumpsters where hunters can dispose of carcasses (head and spinal column) after quartering or butchering so they can leave the CWD areas immediately.

Alternately, hunters may work with meat processors within the zone; some options are listed below.

Dumpsters for carcass disposal

Dumpster locations are listed when they are available for the hunting season.

Meat processor options

The following is a list of some meat processors in the area. Use at your own discretion and call for availability first.

Dave’s Wild GameAitkin27106 County Road 11218-821-8648Whole carcass
Double D’s Custom Meat ProcessingAitkin35878 422nd Place218-928-8150Whole carcass
Emily MeatsEmily

39990 Highway 6 North


Whole carcass
Minnesota Meats (Princeton Meats)Aitkin

145 Southgate Drive


Whole carcass
Von Hanson MeatsBaxter

15811 Audubon Way


Whole carcass

Taxidermist information for sampling trophy deer

The taxidermists listed below are trained in sample collection. If you bring your trophy deer to one of these taxidermists to have it caped or mounted, the taxidermist will collect the lymph node samples and deliver them to the DNR for testing. If you use one of these taxidermists, you will satisfy the mandatory sampling requirements. Once your deer is caped and the skull plate removed, you can bring the cape and cleaned skull plate with attached antlers to your taxidermist of choice for final mounting.

Using a taxidermist for sampling will result in a longer turnaround time for your CWD test results.

Other taxidermists in this area can be used if the caped out head is brought to a sampling station.

David Ringstrom 20334 Lancelot LaneBrainerd56401218-829-5666
Nathan Anderson 18785 Tower RoadIronton56455218-546-8186
Bruce EdbergWild North Taxidermy20839 State Hwy 371 N.Brainerd56401218-963-2380
Tracy JonesJones Taxidermy of Emily40476 Pinewood DriveEmily56447218-851-5866

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Other zone information

Summary of necropsy findings for CWD-positive deer in Crow Wing County

The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (University of Minnesota, St. Paul) received the deer on Feb. 11 for necropsy. After allowing the deer to thaw, Dr. Arno Wuenschmann performed the necropsy on Feb. 14. The deer weighed 100 pounds and was so emaciated that there were no internal fat stores remaining. The deer’s bone marrow was red and gelatinous, a further indication of potentially fatal poor nutritional state. There was also evidence of pneumonia that was caused by the aspiration of food. However this aspiration pneumonia was not deemed of sufficient severity to have caused the animal’s death based on the small portion of lung that was affected. Furthermore, one of the compartments of the stomachs (abomasum) was distended and impacted with food. Additional IHC testing at Michigan State University of the brain stem (the obex) also found CWD on Feb. 27. 

Dr. Wuenschmann’s conclusion is that the animal had CWD based on the detection of abnormal prion protein in the obex by immunohistochemistry, which corroborated the previous diagnosis of CWD made at Colorado State University. Both emaciation and aspiration pneumonia are common findings in deer with CWD.

Complete details are available in the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory necropsy report.

For questions related to the postmortem examination of this case, please contact: Dr. Arno Wuenschmann, DVM, ACVP, University of Minnesota: 612-625-8787 or [email protected].

For questions related to any other aspects of this case, please contact: Dr. Michelle Carstensen, Wildlife Health Program Supervisor, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: 651-539-3309 or [email protected].

FAQs about the CWD-positive deer

What was the timeline after the deer was reported?

  • Jan. 23, 2019: An adult female white-tailed deer was found dead near Merrifield by a private citizen and reported to a DNR Conservation Officer. The officer brought the carcass to the Brainerd Wildlife Office for CWD testing. The deer was noticeably thin. Retropharyngeal lymph nodes were extracted and stored frozen until they could be shipped to the Wildlife Health Program staff in Forest Lake.  
  • Feb. 4, 2019: The Crow Wing sample was shipped in a batch of 207 deer samples, mostly from a late season hunt in Winona County, to Colorado State University for testing.
  • Feb. 8, 2019: The DNR was notified that this deer tested as “suspect” on the ELISA screening test.
  • Feb. 14, 2019:  CWD was confirmed by the immunohistochemistry (IHC) test.  
  • Feb. 15, 2019: The DNR announced the findings publicly.

Why did the DNR test this deer?

Because of the CWD-positive captive cervid facility, there is a high degree of public awareness about potentially sick deer in the area. Given the deer was found dead very close to the positive farm, it was important to test this animal for CWD.

What was the sex and age of the deer? 

The deer was an adult female. Since the deer was frozen solid, a section of the lower jaw was cut off to thaw and a front incisor was extracted. This tooth will be sent to Matson’s Laboratory (Manhattan, MT) for aging by cementum annuli technique to provide an age estimate of this deer.

What happened to the carcass? 

After sampling, the carcass had been placed in a dumpster at the Brainerd Wildlife Office, to await transfer to a lined landfill, which is an approved method for disposal of deer carcasses.

What did you do when the test results came back? 

Once the preliminary test results were received on Feb. 8, the Wildlife Health Program staff contacted Brainerd Wildlife staff to inquire if the carcass was still available. The dumpster had not been picked up and the frozen carcass was still there. The carcass was extracted from the dumpster and routed to the University of Minnesota’s Veterinary Diagnostic Lab for a full necropsy.

What happened to the deer after the necropsy?

The carcass was placed in the alkaline digester at the University of Minnesota.

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