ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Hunters are now just days away from a special deer hunt to help stop the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.
Tuesday, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced that a third deer was found infected with CWD. A hunter harvested the deer in mid-November. Around that same time, two other deer were killed that later tested positive for CWD about 4 miles west of Lanesboro. The third deer was killed about 5 miles north of the other two in southeastern Minnesota.
The only other wild deer found in Minnesota with the disease was harvested near Pine Island in 2010.
"It's disappointing but we're still hoping that we're on the front end of this infection," said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager.
Cornicelli said the discovery of the third infected deer will not change the current boundaries of the CWD management zone. However, this latest case will affect the disease control zone for farmed deer and elk.
CWD is a fatal brain disease to deer, elk and moose. It is not known to affect people but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still warns people against eating meat from animals known to have CWD.
The special hunt starts Saturday. The majority of the CWD management zone is private land so hunters will need to get permission from the landowners. DNR staff will collect samples from the harvested deer for CWD testing.
"Now that we found the disease in one area, we can focus our surveillance effort and our goals in that area," Cornicelli said.
According to Cornicelli, the deer feeding ban will go into effect by this weekend for people who live in Filmore, Houston, Mower, Olmsted and Winona counties.
"The disease is transmitted by sharing saliva, urine, feces. When you put a deer over a common food source, your transmission rate goes way up," he said.
Cornicelli went on to say, "It's going to be a tough few years I think for deer hunters and deer enthusiasts, in general."
The special hunt runs from Dec. 31 - Jan. 15.