News release: Chronic wasting disease suspected in a wild deer in the Bemidji area for the first time

November 14, 2022

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources received preliminary test results indicating the first suspected case of chronic wasting disease in a wild white-tailed deer in the Bemidji area. The adult male was harvested opening weekend of the firearms season about 10 miles south of Bemidji in deer permit area 184.

While preliminary test results strongly indicate a CWD infection, this needs to be confirmed by additional analysis. The final result is expected later this week.

“While disappointing, this find is not completely unexpected,” said Kelly Straka, wildlife section manager for the DNR. “We’re announcing this preliminary CWD positive result to encourage hunters in the Bemidji area to have their deer tested.”

Following this preliminary result, the DNR will make self-service sampling stations available in deer permit area 184. If the preliminary positive is confirmed, the DNR will take additional management actions per the agency’s CWD response plan, which may include late special season hunting and targeted culling.

Sampling of harvested deer in deer permit area 184 was mandatory opening weekend of the firearms deer hunting season, Nov. 5-7. So far this fall, over 1,200 deer have been sampled in that area and test results for approximately 700 deer have been received, with one deer preliminarily testing positive for the disease. Preliminary test results from the remainder of the sampled deer in that area are expected this week.

Deer hunters across the state have testing options for the remainder of the fall by using the services of one of 150 taxidermists who partner with DNR to extract samples or making an appointment at a DNR Wildlife Office. Information on self-service sampling locations in the Bemidji area will be available on the DNR website or by calling the DNR’s Information Center at 888-646-6367.

CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects cervids, including white-tailed deer. It is found globally and in about half of the states in the U.S. CWD remains relatively rare in Minnesota but is a concern because the disease is easily transmissible and always fatal. Since surveillance of wild deer began in Minnesota in 2002, 168 cases of CWD in the wild population have been documented, most of them in the southeastern part of the state.

Complete information about CWD is available on the DNR website.

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