2,300 deer tested negative for CWD - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

2,300 deer tested negative for CWD

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NEAR ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Good news to report for area hunters. After extensive sampling in Southeastern Minnesota this past fall and winter - Minnesota DNR did not detect a single case of Chronic Wasting Disease. The disease was discovered in 2010, in a white-tailed deer near Pine Island.

Nearly 2,300 deer, killed in Southeastern Minnesota last year, were tested for the disease. Area hunters we spoke with, said they don't believe CWD was ever a "real" threat to area deer.

Hunters like Gordon Stiller said their backwoods use to be full of deer.

"You'd see them in the morning when it was snowing, they'd be eating," said Stiller.

That was before a white-tailed doe near Pine Island tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease just over a year ago. Now, outdoors men say the deer herds are thinning out, and that is changing the sport.

"Hunting was really tough, I'm lucky I got one. After 11 days of hunting, I seen two deer," said Terry Mathews, a hunter.

Since Fall 2010, nearly 2,300 adult deer have been slain, and tested for CWD. Many were killed in a special hunting zone, known as area 602 as you can see here on the map. This past hunting season, the area implemented special hunting regulations.

"You could get one buck, which is right, but you could get unlimited number of tags for does and fawns and with the lack of deer, why did they do that, it was crazy," said Mathews.

To hunters the dwindling deer population is frustrating, in part because they don't believe more deer are infected.

"It seems like it might have been a deer that came out of a game farm. Deer don't just live to be twelve years old in the wild," stated Mathews.

"You don't see a deer in the open that's that old. Five years is really an old deer," said Stiller.

While the evidence suggests there is not a widespread CWD infection, surveillance in future years is needed to make that final determination. Also, a feeding ban will continue into the "for seeable" future for Dodge, Goodhue, Olmsted and Wabasha counties.

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