News release: CWD detected in a wild deer near Wabasha in southeastern Minnesota

November 27, 2023

A deer harvested during the opening weekend of firearms season near Wabasha in southeastern Minnesota has tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

The hunter harvested the adult male deer in deer permit area (DPA) 342, within the southeastern Minnesota CWD surveillance zone where hunters were required to have their deer tested for CWD during the opening weekend of firearms season.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources had added DPA 342 to the CWD surveillance zone this year in response to detections of CWD in wild deer in bordering Buffalo County, Wisconsin in 2022.

“This discovery in southeastern Minnesota, while unwelcome news, highlights the importance and necessity of our disease surveillance efforts,” said Erik Hildebrand, Minnesota DNR wildlife health supervisor. “We truly appreciate hunters’ help in combating CWD by getting their deer tested for CWD when required and complying with carcass movement restrictions. Results of these efforts help limit disease spread and protect the health of Minnesota’s white-tailed deer.”

With the new discovery, the DNR’s current CWD response plan calls for three years of mandatory testing to help determine the potential prevalence of the disease in DPA 342 and surrounding DPAs.

Much of southeastern Minnesota includes areas where CWD has been found in wild deer, or areas that are considered at risk for disease transmission. Statewide, the Minnesota DNR has tested more than 130,000 deer since 2002. As of Nov. 27, 236 have tested positive. Most of those cases occurred in southeastern Minnesota. These data indicate the disease remains relatively rare in Minnesota. 

Within DPAs where CWD has been detected, the DNR uses multiple management actions designed to help mitigate disease spread, including carcass movement restrictions, dumpsters, a deer feeding and attractants ban, and sometimes increased hunting opportunities with increased bag limits.

Complete CWD test results are available on the Minnesota DNR’s CWD test results webpage. Any additional deer harvested during the 2023 deer seasons in Minnesota that test positive for CWD will be reported on this webpage. The DNR will directly notify any hunter who harvests a deer that tests positive.

CWD affects cervids, which include white-tailed deer, moose and elk, and has no known cure. It is found in more than half of the states in the U.S.

More information about CWD, what the DNR is doing to limit disease spread and protect the health of Minnesota’s white-tailed deer, and information for hunters about current and upcoming hunting seasons, is available on the Minnesota DNR website.

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