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CWD detected in wild deer near Grand Rapids

The DNR says it's the first time the brain disease has been found in a wild animal in this permit area, and steps will be taken to see if the problem has spread.

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. — Editor's note: The video above first aired Sept. 22, 2021. 

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is updating its response plan after the discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease in a wild deer near Grand Rapids. 

Action is being taken after a Grand Rapids resident alerted a DNR agent in mid-February that an a doe had died in his backyard. Staff collected the carcass and submitted a lymph node sample for CWD testing. Results of a necropsy showed the deer died from a collision with a vehicle, not CWD, but test results confirmed the animal was infected.

DNR officials say this is the first time the wasting disease has been detected in a wild deer in this permit area, so the agency is jumping into action to determine whether the disease has spread. They will work with local road authorities to collect and test road kill samples, and will consider targeted culling of the deer herd where it can be done safely. 

“We’ve always looked at CWD as a disease that could impact the entire state, yet implemented disease management actions as needed in each area where CWD was found,” said Kelly Straka, the DNR’s wildlife section manager. “This new discovery doesn’t make CWD a statewide problem, but it does mean we need to take more of a statewide approach.”

The CWD discovery near Grand Rapids is prompting an update to the DNR's statewide response plan, to unify the approach to disease surveillance, management, control and education.

The enhanced statewide surveillance includes:

  • Updating the DNR’s CWD response plan this spring
  • Investigating options for hunters to use a self-mailing kit for free testing statewide
  • Expanding the taxidermist network (Partner Sampling Program) statewide
  • Upgrading and improving current design for self-service stations

The DNR says there now are eight areas spread across Minnesota, from north to south, where CWD has been found in wild or farmed deer. Despite these detections, the disease remains rare in Minnesota. Fewer than 1% of deer have tested positive for CWD in areas where the disease has consistently been detected during the past five years.

Since 2002, DNR has tested 106,000 deer statewide and 153 have tested positive. Most of those cases occurred in southeastern Minnesota.

More information about CWD and what is being done to limit the spread and protect the health of Minnesota’s white-tailed deer is available on the DNR website.

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