As part of an adaptive approach to chronic wasting disease management statewide, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is broadening the options this year for hunters to get their deer tested for CWD.
“Keeping Minnesota’s deer healthy remains a top DNR priority,” DNR Wildlife Section Manager Kelly Straka said. “The DNR’s commitment to sound surveillance and aggressive management of CWD has not changed. What is different is how we’re accomplishing that from place to place and improving options for hunters to help us with disease surveillance.”
Hunters will be able to submit samples through taxidermists who are partnering with the DNR or by dropping off deer heads at self-service sampling stations. Other options available include using mail-in kits (hunters remove the lymph nodes from deer themselves), dropping by one of the DNR-staffed sampling stations during the opening weekend of firearms season, or making appointments at area wildlife offices within CWD zones at any time during the deer hunting season.
One notable difference this fall will be fewer self-service sampling stations than in previous seasons. Self-service stations will be available only in firearms season, with the exception of point-based surveillance zones, which will have stations available starting in archery season and will remain available until sampling goals are met. Hunters should visit the DNR’s Make a Plan page to learn more about self-service sampling station availability for the DPA they plan to hunt.
This year’s revised approach to sampling will allow the DNR and hunters to work cooperatively to ensure robust data collection, particularly in CWD zones, while also making efficient use of limited resources. The DNR listened carefully to hunters’ expressed preferences and also evaluated the efficiency and effectiveness of last year’s data collection in developing this year’s sampling plan. “We’re encouraging archery and muzzleloader hunters in CWD zones to use one of the alternative methods available to get their deer tested for CWD,” Straka said. “We’re still rigorously sampling in areas where CWD has been detected and samples from hunter-harvested deer provide critical information about the disease.”
CWD sample submission will be mandatory in all CWD zones during the opening weekend of the firearms A season (Nov. 5-6) for all hunter harvested deer one year or older. Locations of CWD sampling partners and DNR-staffed CWD sampling stations will continue to be updated on DNR’s website throughout the fall.
Carcass movement restrictions are in effect for CWD management and control zones during all seasons. Whole carcasses cannot leave these zones until a “not detected” test result is received. More about carcass movement restrictions can be found on page 73 of the Minnesota Hunting Regulations. The regulations and links to complete deer season information are available on the DNR website.