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Democrats call for Board of Animal Health president to resign over CWD

DFLers say he failed to act, and has failed deer hunters in Minnesota.

Several Democrats in the Minnesota House of Representatives are calling for the president of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health to resign over his handling of chronic wasting disease. 

In a statement Tuesday, the 22 lawmakers said Dean Compart, the president of the Board of Animal Health (BAH), should do the "honorable thing and resign."

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a deadly neurological disease that affects deer, moose and elk. It was first discovered in a farmed deer in Minnesota in 2002 and a wild animal in 2010, and has since been discovered in a growing number of Minnesota counties

Related [June 1]: DNR bans movement of farmed deer to prevent further CWD spread

“Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) poses a critical threat to Minnesota’s wild white-tail deer population, and the Board of Animal Health has the responsibility to hold cervid farms in our state accountable for their role in its spread," the lawmakers said in a statement. "Unfortunately, by failing to act, the BAH and its leadership have continued to let down those who enjoy deer hunting. 

"Worse, future generations potentially won’t be able to enjoy these cherished traditions if CWD is allowed to spread, and based on the frequency at which the disease is identified in new areas of the state, unless urgent action is taken, it almost certainly will," the statement said. 

According to the Minnesota DNR, a total of 115 wild deer have tested positive for CWD since 2010 of the 90,000-plus that have been submitted for testing via the DNR's sampling program.

The disease has spread to new areas of Minnesota in part due to the movement of farmed deer from one area to another. Earlier this month, the Minnesota DNR banned the movement of farmed deer from June 1-July 31 in response to "concerning developments" after CWD was discovered in white-tailed deer on a farm in Beltrami County, which was linked to an infected deer from a Winona County farm and led to nine deer farms across the state being quarantined. 

The DNR said in late May that deer remains from the Beltrami farm were found on nearby county-managed land (outside of the quarantine area) after reportedly being moved by the deer farm owner. At least one of the bones found indicated the presence of CWD-causing prions. It's unknown if the infected carcasses spread CWD to wild deer. 

“All Minnesotans deserve a healthy deer herd and comprehensive solutions to protect it. If the deer farms won’t be accountable to the BAH, and the BAH won’t be accountable to Minnesotans, it’s time for BAH President Dean Compart to do the honorable thing and resign.”

The lawmakers who signed the letter are:

  • Rep. Rob Ecklund, DFL – International Falls 
  • Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL – South St. Paul
  • House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL – Golden Valley
  • Rep. Sydney Jordan, DFL – Minneapolis
  • Rep. Patty Acomb, DFL – Minnetonka
  • Rep. Ami Wazlawik, DFL – White Bear Township
  • Rep. Kelly Morrison, DFL – Deephaven
  • Rep. Todd Lippert, DFL – Northfield
  • Rep. Ginny Klevorn, DFL – Plymouth
  • Rep. Jay Xiong, DFL – Saint Paul
  • Rep. Heather Keeler, DFL – Moorhead
  • Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn, DFL – Roseville
  • Rep. Samantha Vang, DFL – Brooklyn Center
  • Rep. Fue Lee, DFL – Minneapolis
  • Rep. Peter Fischer, DFL – Maplewood
  • Rep. Steve Sandell, DFL – Woodbury
  • Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL – Coon Rapids
  • Rep. Liz Reyer, DFL – Eagan
  • Rep. Erin Koegel, DFL – Spring Lake Park
  • Rep. Jamie Long, DFL – Minneapolis
  • Rep. Michael Howard, DFL – Richfield
  • Rep. Emma Greenman, DFL – Minneapolis 

Bring Me The News has reached out to BAH for comment on the call for Compart's resignation.

CWD is caused by prions, which can damage brain and nerve tissue of deer, moose and elk. The disease is most likely spread when an infected deer or elk shed prions in saliva, feces, urine or other fluids or tissues. 

It's a concern because there is no cure and it's fatal to cervids. 

CWD is not known to naturally occur in other animals, although eating meat from a CWD-infected deer is not advised.

Test results, including locations of confirmed positive test results and statistics, are available here

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