Fish and Wildlife Almanac

November 16, 2020

Hunters encouraged to help protect the wild deer herd

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources urges deer hunters to participate in chronic wasting disease testing in designated areas, following lower-than-anticipated harvest numbers and hunter sample submissions during firearms deer season.

The DNR shifted to voluntary sampling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the DNR is using unstaffed sampling stations to facilitate social distancing. 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. Hunters can prepare for sample drop-off by watching this video or following the steps outlined online.

Wolf management public input period open through Nov. 20

People are invited to share their thoughts about wolf management as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources updates the state’s 20-year-old wolf management plan.

This public input opportunity is available through Friday, Nov. 20, on the wolf plan section of the DNR’s community engagement website. The engagement website includes a questionnaire, online forum on topics related to the update of the management plan and a timeline of the update process.

Later in the process, the public will have an opportunity to comment on draft updates to the state’s wolf management plan. The DNR anticipates releasing the draft plan for comment early next year. More information about the update to the plan is available on the DNR website.

The DNR extended the wolf management public input period to Nov. 20, after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would remove the wolf from the federal threatened species list in Minnesota. The removal becomes effective Jan. 4, 2021.

Reminder: Deer feeding ban changes in effect

Deer feeding restrictions remain in place in Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Rice, Scott and Washington counties. These counties were added on July 1 to the deer feeding and attractant bans that already were in place in other counties affected by chronic wasting disease. Keeping food and attractants away from deer prevents deer from the interaction and close contact that can spread chronic wasting disease.

Deer carcass movement restrictions in place in CWD management and control zones

Deer carcass movement restrictions are in place in chronic wasting disease management and control zones, which are located in southeastern and north-central Minnesota and the south metro area. Whole deer carcasses cannot leave these zones until a “not detected” test result is received. If hunters do not submit their deer for sampling, or want to transport it outside the zones before getting a test result, they must debone and quarter their deer and properly dispose the head and spinal column inside the zones.

These restrictions are part of a comprehensive strategy to keep Minnesota’s deer, elk and moose healthy by limiting the spread of disease. No carcass movement restrictions are in place in CWD surveillance areas. Detailed information is available on the DNR website.

Hunters can find CWD test results online

Hunters can check the DNR website for CWD test results on the deer they’ve harvested. The site also shows statewide CWD test results, including locations of deer that tested positive, and statistics. Any additional deer harvested during current and upcoming Minnesota deer seasons that test positive for CWD will be reported on this CWD results webpage. The DNR will directly notify any hunter who harvests a deer that tests positive. The DNR appreciates hunters’ participation in providing voluntary samples to help with disease surveillance.

Southeastern Minnesotans: Get involved in our deer movement study

People in southeastern Minnesota can help with a DNR deer movement study that looks at how disease may spread between deer. Deer that are part of the southeast deer movement study have been collared. The public, hunters and landowners can: call in collars of harvested or found deer; share photos of collared deer; monitor and report collared deer that appear sick or injured; grant permission to access your property for capturing and collaring deer (particularly if you own property in Wabasha, Olmsted, Winona or Houston counties); or ask questions or share ideas about the study.

Landowners, in particular, are critical to the study, having provided access to more than 62,000 acres of private land for deer capture since 2018, and continually sharing photos and other information about collared deer on their land. To participate, contact the study biologists directly by calling 507-380-1858 or emailing [email protected]. For more information on the study, visit the DNR deer movement study webpage.