CWD discovery in Houston County prompts additional late-season deer hunts

Published 6:48 am Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is offering additional late-season deer hunts in southeastern Minnesota following the discovery of chronic wasting disease in a wild deer taken in Houston County.

Residents and nonresidents can participate in the hunts from Friday, Jan. 25, through Sunday, Jan. 27; and Friday, Feb. 1, through Sunday, Feb. 3, in deer permit area 346. The DNR will collect samples from deer shot during the two special hunts to help determine the extent of disease in that area. Hunters must bring all deer to a DNR-staffed check station to be tested for CWD.

“Gathering samples from this larger range will give us a better idea of whether additional wild deer in the area have been infected with CWD,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager.

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The special hunt boundary encompasses both the spot where a hunter harvested a CWD-positive wild deer and the farmed cervid facility in Winona County nine miles away, where farmed deer tested positive for CWD in December 2017, Cornicelli said.

To collect samples around the positive deer, the DNR will issue landowner deer shooting permits to individuals within two miles of that location.

The Houston County CWD-positive deer, an adult male, was taken during the opening weekend of the 2018 3B firearms deer season. The presumptive-positive test results were announced on Dec. 5 and the disease was confirmed about a week later.

During the upcoming special hunts, DNR biologists will collect samples to better understand if the adult male was an outlier or indicative of a larger outbreak.

“Adult male deer travel long distances, and we don’t know the origin of this deer, so it is important to collect samples over a broad geographic area to get a better picture of CWD in this particular area,” Cornicelli said.

The DNR will use data collected from the special hunts to help inform the extent of disease and potential season changes for next year. The DNR will also issue limited landowner shooting permits to collect additional samples.

For hunters who would like to donate their harvests from the special hunt, the DNR has partnered with the Bluffland Whitetails Association to coordinate donations of deer to those in need. Additional details about the Share the Harvest program are available at

Hunters must plan ahead and should check the DNR’s website at for complete details about the special hunts, hunt rules and considerations, station locations for registration and CWD sampling, a map of the hunt area, and information about the DNR’s efforts to keep Minnesota wild deer healthy.

Private land makes up most of the area within the hunt area and hunters must have landowner permission to hunt that land. Public lands open during the regular season are open during the special hunts. Interactive maps providing details about public lands also will be available on the DNR’s website.