Minnesota deer hunters should be aware of chronic wasting disease regulations and sampling as they plan ahead for upcoming deer seasons, including the antlerless-only and youth deer seasons that take place from Thursday, Oct. 15, to Sunday, Oct. 18, and the opening weekend of firearms deer season Saturday, Nov. 7, and Sunday, Nov. 8.
For the 2020 hunting season, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has shifted to voluntary sampling for all designated CWD areas. Hunters may submit samples from their deer at unstaffed sampling stations.
Hunters planning to transport harvested deer should also familiarize themselves with the deer carcass movement restrictions that are in place for certain areas of the state.
Voluntary CWD sampling
The change to voluntary sampling using unstaffed stations facilitates social distancing required during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hunters in CWD management zones, control zones or surveillance areas are urged to drop off the head of deer 1 year of age or older at these stations.
“Samples are critical in helping us monitor the spread of chronic wasting disease in Minnesota’s wild deer,” said Michelle Carstensen, DNR’s wildlife health program supervisor. “The more samples we receive, the better we understand the prevalence of CWD in these areas and the more information we have to determine the best methods to keep our deer healthy.”
Hunters can find details about how to submit their deer for sampling, including any deer that will be made into deer mounts, on the DNR’s CWD sampling page. Hunters must register their deer prior to sampling, by phone, internet or at a big game registration station. After submitting a sample, hunters can check their CWD test results online at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck by entering their nine-digit MDNR number from the deer’s site tag.
Sampling stations will be available for all seasons in the disease management zones (north-central, south metro and southeast) and control zone (southeast). In disease surveillance areas (east-central, west-central and south metro), stations will be available until sampling goals have been reached. Hunters should check the CWD webpage for current station availability.
Mandatory carcass movement restrictions details
Deer carcass movement restrictions are in effect for all CWD management and control zones, located in north-central and southeastern Minnesota and the south metro area. No carcass movement restrictions are in place in CWD surveillance areas, where the disease has not been discovered in wild deer. These carcass movement restrictions help keep the disease from spreading farther in the state.
Whole carcasses cannot leave a management or control zone until a “not detected” CWD test result is received after providing a sample. Successful hunters may de-bone or quarter their deer to transport their harvest without brain and spinal column material.
To help hunters comply with these restrictions, the DNR has set up dumpsters in the management and control zones to allow hunters to 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 take the meat or quarters out of the CWD area. Hunters can find the current list of disposal locations on the DNR webpage devoted to each CWD sampling area. These area-specific pages are accessible through mndnr.gov/cwd.
CWD testing outside of sampling area
Hunters outside of a sampling area may collect their own lymph node sample and submit it for testing to a veterinary diagnostic laboratory at either University of Minnesota or Colorado State University for a fee. The University of Minnesota fee is $39, with an additional charge of $34 if the whole head is submitted. The Colorado State University fee is $35. A DNR video showing how to collect a lymph node sample is available at mndnr.gov/cwd/videos.html.
For more information on CWD, the DNR’s continued efforts to manage the disease and how to help, visit mndnr.gov/cwd. Hunters can also find hunting regulations and information about chronic wasting disease regulations and sampling in the 2020 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations, available online at mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting and wherever licenses are sold.