Sharpshooters kill 238 deer in CWD zone
A months-long effort to thin the deer herd and determine the infection rate of chronic wasting disease in southeastern Minnesota wrapped up on Sunday night when federal sharpshooters concluded their work in a CWD “hot zone” near Preston.
Erik Hildebrand, DNR wildlife health specialist, reports that sharpshooters removed 238 deer in the past month, with two testing positive for CWD, and 29 results are still pending.
That brings the total of CWD-positive deer in the region to 11, with all but one found in a small area near Preston. Since December 31, more than 1,100 deer have been tested
“That total is even a little bit better than we’d been hoping for,” Hildebrand said Tuesday. “It gives us a real good idea of how prevalent the disease is in the area, and it lets us see that this seems to be a localized infection. It leads us to believe that this is a spark, not a widespread, outstanding infection.”
Altogether, the DNR has now tested more than 4,000 deer in southeastern Minnesota since the beginning of the 2016 deer hunting season — but the effort is far from over. Planning is already underway to determine the size and shape of the CWD zone that will be in place for the 2017 deer season.
“We will set up a zone, but we don’t know what the zone will be yet,” Hildebrand said. “There will be mandatory sampling inside the zone, and there will be carcass export restrictions. The five-county feeding ban will stay in place. We’ll be having meetings in the upcoming weeks to determine the size and boundaries of the zone.”
Hildebrand said that despite rumors that the DNR was trying to wipe out every deer in the area, that’s far from true.
“The landowners in the area are still seeing quite a few deer,” he said. “The term ‘eradication’ is brought up by folks now and then, but that didn’t happen. There are still deer out there.”