DNR wants to test 900 deer in southeastern Minnesota - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

DNR wants to test 900 deer in southeastern Minnesota


PINE ISLAND, Minn./ST. PAUL (KTTC) -- The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants to test about 900 deer in southeastern Minnesota as part of its response to the discovery of chronic wasting disease.

A deer shot near Pine Island last November was diagnosed with CWD.

The DNR has launched a response plan, which included a deer count around the location of the infected deer, and issuing shooting permits to landowners.

DNR big-game coordinator, Lou Cornicelli says an air survey revealed roughly 6,500 deer in a 10-mile radius around the infected deer and about 1,900 in the "core zone", a 5-mile radius around the deer.  

To get a sufficient sample size, Cornicelli says the DNR has to test roughly 900 deer for CWD.

He says about 6 to 8 landowners in the surveillance area have been issued shooting permits so far and each can allow more shooters on their land. Cornicelli didn't know how many landowners would be needed, but said the response has been positive.

As soon as a landowner has a shooting permit, they can begin harvesting deer. The DNR says each permit holder will get 10 tags, but can requested more if needed.

Landowners or their designated shooters can keep deer carcasses or surrender them to the DNR for donation to individuals. CWD test results are expected to be available within three business days so that people holding carcasses can make decisions on processing and consumption.

In addition to the special deer hunt for landowners, the DNR will also issue a feeding ban covering Dodge, Goodhue, Wabasha and Olmsted County later this month.

"One simple step that anyone placing food out for wildlife can do to help prevent the spread of disease is to stop feeding deer," Cornicelli said.

The DNR is also considering the use of government sharpshooters and says the total cost for the CWD response is at least $200,000.

The DNR will hold a public information meeting on Monday, February 14 and 7 p.m. in the Pine Island School Cafeteria to give an update on the CWD response and answer any questions.

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