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A deer sanctuary in central Minnesota might be forced to close its doors after 60 years

After decades of service a longtime deer sanctuary may have to close its doors for good
After decades of service a longtime deer sanctuary may have to close its doors for good 01:53

HUTCHINSON, Minn. — A long-time deer sanctuary in Hutchinson is at risk of being shut down and a fence might be the culprit. 

For decades, a 28-acre site in the middle of town has been a destination for people of all ages.

"We came here a few times, and she gets so excited to see the deer and the ducks and everything," said Carissa McCain, visitor.

Deer is the main attraction. They've been on site for more than 60 years. But due to a new law, Gopher Campfire Wildlife Sanctuary is now required to build a second fence around the perimeter, to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.

"Our deer on the inside they don't want them to touch the nose of a deer on the outside," said Jake Powell, Gopher Campfire Wildlife Sanctuary.

"Is it possible? Yes, I understand they want to stop the spread, I get it. Just, it's a lot of money for us to come up with," said Craig Schmeling, Gopher Campfire Wildlife Sanctuary.

The new fence would come with a couple of walk-in gates so visitors could still get to the original fence to feed the deer. But the sanctuary is run by volunteers and supported by donations. So there's no guarantee organizers will come up with the money they need.

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They've raised $40,000 so far but the goal is about $100,000 and they need to secure that money by July 15th.

If they don't, the herd would have to be euthanized. The sanctuary isn't licensed to relocate the 16 deer on the property or to release them into the wild.

"Unfortunately there is nothing we can do with the deer except put them down," said Powell.

But they're hoping it doesn't come to that. The site has also become a destination for 4Hers and field trips.

"There aren't too many people that want the deer to leave. The deer are a pretty big deal to the town," said Powell.

The DNR has told the sanctuary that they have to have the second fence in place by Sept. 1 and it would likely take several weeks to build. The sanctuary does have a GoFundMe page set up if you are interested in donating.

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