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Local hunters monitor CWD developments

Through December 4, the DNR confirmed that six more dead deer in the disease management area of ​​southeastern Minnesota tested positive for CWD during the first season of firearms this year. That is after 11 confirmed cases were found in Fillmore County during last year's hunting season and the efforts of the DNR to combat the disease through a late hunt, owners' shooting permits and efforts to sharp shot. Previously, the only other wild deer with the disease found in Minnesota was harvested near Pine Island in 2010.

So far, CWD has not been found in wild deer outside of the southeastern portion of the state, but that does not mean that some Hunters at the local level are not closely monitoring the results of the tests conducted by the DNR on dead whitetails.

The deer permit areas 218 and 277, areas not far south of Alexandria, were among the precautionary test areas where hunters were requested to present their deer murders during the first two days of the gun season of fire on November 4 and 5. Tests were conducted to determine if the disease may have spread from a captive deer to the herd of wild deer in central and north-central Minnesota.

Hunters help locally

Glenwood Area DNR Wildlife Manager Kevin Kotts worked at the Glenwood sampling station those two days and said he collected almost 115 samples. For the most part, the hunters with whom they worked were interested in asking questions and being willing to help.

"The hunters were pretty damn cooperative," Kotts said. "(They) were very interested, we gave you the CWD fact sheets, this is something you have to keep in mind, maybe it's not something to be afraid of, but certainly something to be aware of."

The DNR had a sampling target of 450 in the local permit areas and the hunters almost doubled those targets. Permit Area 218 had 807 samples taken and area 277 had 889. Among them, no cases of CWD were suspected or confirmed. The higher participation numbers increase the size of the sample, which helps the DNR to trust more that the disease has not reached the herd of wild deer in this part of the state.

"That shows that the hunters are interested." Bruce Lien, from the local chapter of the Quality Deer Management Association, Prairie to Woods Whitetails, said. "I think all hunters should be concerned because if it is an area that has many deer as our area, that could be devastating."

"So much we have to learn"

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal brain disease in deer, elk and elk that has been found in some areas of North America, Norway and South Korea.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the symptoms of infected animals may include weight loss, tripping, listlessness and other neurological symptoms, but any symptoms may take more than a year to develop. Scientists believe that CWD proteins are spread between animals through body fluids or through environmental contamination of soil, food or water. Experts also believe that the disease can live in the environment for a long time, which makes animals more susceptible to contracting the disease even after an infected deer has died.

The disease is always deadly in deer. There is no scientific evidence that the disease poses a risk to the health of people who come in contact with infected animals or who eat infected meat, but the CDC recommends not eating meat from animals known to have CWD.

Research in Canada called Macaque The CWD study is studying closely whether the disease can spread to another species. The study, which began in 2009, introduced CWD material to 21 macaque monkeys of white-tailed deer or elk, even feeding them with meat from infected animals. Years later, monkeys became ill with CWD.

"This is a new result that has not yet been published, but there are many interesting things there," Chris Jennelle, research scientist for the DNR Wildlife Health Program. , He said. "There is still no concrete evidence that people may be infected, but it only increases our concern about breaking that barrier."

It's part of the many questions that researchers are still trying to find.

"There is so much we have to learn about CWD at multiple levels," said Jennelle. "How can we better understand the transmission of CWD among wild deer?" So how can we better predict how CWD propagates among deer in the landscape so we can better manage it? How do we manage it effectively and efficiently? from different groups. "

An aggressive approach

The response of the DNR to the pursuit of the chronic disease of attrition in wild deer in Minnesota a year ago was to take an aggressive approach to try to limit its spread.

Prohibitions on feeding were Placement bans were established without deer being fired in the area of ​​disease management allowed outside the area unless a negative CWD test was received, whole deer carcasses are not allowed to enter the state , elk, elk or caribou out of Minnesota.

A special 16-day deer hunt last year in southeastern Minnesota was launched until January 15, 2017, and nearly 300 permits were issued to allow the owners removed the deer from their properties, and through the special 16-day hunt, 873 additional deer were killed.

Jennelle pointed out studies carried out in Infected areas of CWD in Colorado and Wyoming show a long-term population decline in the herd of deer as a reason why it is so important to detect and respond early.

"CWD to its fate will increase its prevalence, and once it has been in the population for a long time it can and will cause a population decline in the deer," said Jennelle. "We are potentially talking of decades from now, but as a management agency we are concerned about the long term and the short term, the best chance to control it is if it detects it early, and we feel that we have caught it quite early. handle the problem. "

It is widely believed that one of the best ways to limit an outbreak is to reduce the density of the deer in a specific area, preventing the animals from coming into contact with each one. other. Mass killings of deer in specific areas is the approach taken by many state wildlife agencies to try to limit their spread.

"That can always be a concern for anyone," said Lien. "They are many deer."

So far, so well locally

At this time, the Midwest of Minnesota and the Alexandria area have no known cases of chronic disease deterioration in the wild deer herd, but Jennelle said it is impossible know what could happen in the future.

"There are so many mechanisms of possible transmissions," he said. "Some of them are not natural, it's potentially people who transport infected carcasses through the landscape and do not even know it, there is a possibility that infected, infected farms can be transmitted to the wild deer, these are two big concerns."

Lien said that CWD is something that the local Quality Deer Management Association chapter has talked about and continues to monitor. It's on the radars of many people, but until now, the disease is not something that hunters have had to face directly at the local level.

"That will change things if we have a positive wild deer," Kotts said. . "Then we'll get in the way they're in the southeast, I hope we do not get it in my work area, I do not know how likely it is to be over time, but so far, all right." I'm happy about that "

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