Negative tests in latest Chronic Wasting Disease scare

A white-tailed deer, recently discovered in southeastern Minnesota near Oronoco, exhibited some symptoms consistent with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), but was not infected with the disease.

“We appreciate the public awareness about the disease and its potential effects on the deer population,” said Lou Cornicelli, big game program coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “We are relieved this animal did not have CWD.”

A landowner observed a buck on his property walking in a tight circle for a long period of time. He reported the deer to the DNR, which euthanized the animal and took it to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Lab for testing.

Deer showing signs of CWD always are tested when discovered, Cornicelli said. This is the first sick deer found and tested in the CWD zone — Wanamingo, Zumbrota and Zumbro Falls southward to Kasson, Byron and Rochester — since sharpshooting ended last winter. None of the 1,181 deer tested in the area thus far have tested positive for the disease.

The CWD zone was established earlier this year after an archery hunter harvested a CWD-positive deer in November 2010. Sampling was conducted last winter, and a deer feeding ban was enacted. Efforts to monitor the area for additional cases of CWD and measures to help prevent its potential spread are in place for the fall hunting season.

“White-tailed deer contract a variety of diseases that express neurological symptoms,” Cornicelli said. “Further testing is ongoing to determine what affected this animal.”

Individuals should notify DNR if they deer exhibiting CWD-like symptoms, which can include walking in circles, drooling, staggering, emaciation and a lack of fear toward humans.

More information about CWD, the DNRs fall surveillance plans, and new regulations for the CWD zone in southeastern Minnesota are available online at mndnr.gov/cwd.

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