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Sampling detects no evidence of CWD spread in deer herd

Good news.

That's what the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has received following the testing of more than 2,300 deer this fall and winter for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

CWD was discovered last fall in a hunter-harvested white-tailed deer near Pine Island. Since then the DNR has instituted several hunting regulation changes including mandatory submission of samples for disease testing of deer taken in the CWD zone.

"The 2011 deer hunting season is over and extensive sampling in southeastern Minnesota did not detect a single case of CWD," said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager. Cornicelli said test results lend confidence "that we caught the disease on the front end of the infection." Since the discovery of CWD in a wild white-tailed deer in fall 2010, DNR has sampled 1,850 adult deer without finding another positive.

Cornicelli said 1,125 adult deer were tested in CWD zone (deer permit area 602) during the hunting season and an additional 1,265 samples were obtained from deer areas surrounding the CWD zone.

Cornicelli said there are no plans to conduct winter sharpshooting. However, hunter-harvested surveillance will be conducted again during the 2012 deer season. While the evidence suggests there is not a widespread CWD infection, surveillance in future years is needed to make that final determination. Also, a deer feeding ban remains in effect in Dodge, Goodhue, Olmsted, and Wabasha counties for the foreseeable future.

"Overall, hunter cooperation and public support has been tremendous," said Cornicelli. "While there are always challenges when you conduct this type of surveillance effort, it really couldn't have been successful without the cooperation of hunters, taxidermists, landowners, and the businesses that allowed us to operate check stations."

Cornicelli also thanked the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association for their support in the surveillance effort and for donating a muzzleloader as a raffle prize as an incentive for hunters to provide a CWD sample.