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Late-Season Deer Hunt Aims To Stop Spread Of Brain Disease

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The Minnesota Board of Animal Health says chronic wasting disease has been discovered in a farmed deer herd in Crow Wing County.

A pair of two-year-old female deer tested positive for the fatal brain disease, and the rest of the herd is now quarantined.

There are 33 mule deer and 100 white tail deer in the herd. State animal health officials and the herd's owner have not decided their next move.

This comes as a two-week deer hunt to stop the possible spread of chronic wasting is underway in southeastern Minnesota. Three deer in that region tested positive for chronic wasting disease in the past two months.

"Hunting hours are a half hour before sunrise until a half hour after sunset. You still have to wear blaze orange. Shotgun muzzle loaders and rifles are not allowed. They're not legal for regular deer hunting, they're not legal here," said Minnesota DNR Wildlife Research Manager Lou Cornicelli." "We're not talking about a voluntary or recreational hunting opportunity. This is mandatory testing for any deer that's a year-and-a-half old or older."

Deer carcasses must be taken to one of five registration stations for testing, which Cornicelli said can be done "very quickly." The DNR's forestry office in Preston has set up a temporary site for hunters to bring their deer.

"We have a refrigerated trailer if folks don't have a place to store their deer while they're waiting for their test results," Cornicelli said. "We also have a dumpster where we can handle carcass remains."

The DNR wants hunters to take about 900 deer during the hunt in southeastern Minnesota to help stop the spread of chronic wasting disease. All deer that are killed will be tested for the brain disease, which is fatal to deer, elk and moose. There is no instance of the disease spreading to humans so far.

The hunt in the Preston area began Saturday morning and ends on Jan. 15.

"For us, this is kind of uncharted territory," Cornicelli said. "We've never done a late-season hunt in this area before."

Click here for more information on chronic wasting disease.

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