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DNR requires testing for chronic wasting disease in deer hunting opener

Testing for the fatal disease was optional in 2020. The Minnesota DNR has changed that this year for parts of the state.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Minnesota's firearm deer hunting opener is just days away, but hunters beware as the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has added new restrictions in the fight to curb chronic wasting disease (CWD).

This year, during the opening weekends of the A and B deer seasons, any deer harvested in any of the DNR's CWD zones must be tested for the disease. Statewide A season is Nov. 6 and 7, while the southeast-only B season is Nov. 20 and 21.

There's also movement restriction in most of the zones, meaning no carcasses can be taken out of those areas.

Here’s a link to the DNR’s zone map.

“Hunters are the most important aspect of keeping disease prevalence low,” said Todd Froberg, acting big game program coordinator with the DNR. “The majority of our deer are shot on opening weekend. So, we can get a good number of samples and get an idea of distribution and prevalence of the disease and landscape in those areas.”

Chronic wasting disease is a neurological disorder caused by cancer-like, abnormal proteins called prions that attack the brain.

First found in the 1960s in Colorado, it wasn’t until 2010 when Minnesota saw its first case in the wild.  

Three samples of CWD were found this year in Minnesota, according to the DNR. The state has tested 118 positive cases all-time.

For more information about the DNR's effort to reduce chronic wasting disease visit their CWD management website.