DNR stresses urgency in addressing chronic wasting disease in Minnesota

May 25, 2021

Today, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (BAH) announced that 12 additional white-tailed deer tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD) as part of its ongoing investigation of a farm in Beltrami County. The DNR believes the situation at the Beltrami County deer farm significantly changes the risk assessment and concern about CWD in Minnesota.

Following the discovery of the initial positive case in the Beltrami County herd, deer remains from that farm were discovered on adjacent county-managed land, elevating the risk to wild deer. The DNR and University of Minnesota researchers immediately surveyed the land for additional remains and confirmed the presence of CWD-causing prions in at least one bone.

Based on the findings in Beltrami County, last week BAH quarantined five additional farmed deer herds because of possible CWD exposure. These additional herds are located in the following Minnesota counties: Hennepin, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, and Mower.

The DNR is fully committed to limiting the spread of CWD in wild deer and to the health of Minnesota’s wild deer herd.

We firmly believe this situation is urgent and that it requires a comprehensive approach in order to protect the health of Minnesota’s wild deer. Minnesota must take a strong, proactive stance to achieve three goals:

  • address the site of the deer remains in Beltrami County;
  • reduce additional risk from Beltrami County through herd quarantine and thorough trace-outs to other herds;
  • move to a more proactive and preventative approach to addressing systemic gaps in the farmed deer system.

Recognizing the significance of this development, DNR is coordinating with partners at the federal, state, and local level to ensure an assertive and nimble response. This includes working with:

  • Beltrami County to coordinate containment of the contaminated site on county-managed land where the deer remains were discovered;
  • Center for Prion Research and Outreach at the University of Minnesota to test the deer remains at the site and nearby soil samples for presence of CWD prions;
  • BAH on its management of the nearby CWD contaminated deer farm and trace-outs to other farms;
  • U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on prion-contaminated site remediation; and
  • Leech Lake, Red Lake and White Earth bands of Ojibwe on information exchange and plans for sampling hunter-harvested deer and data collection this fall. 

For more information and updates on CWD management at the DNR, please visit our website.