Although firearm deer hunting season is over in Minnesota, two extra hunts have been announced for December.
The Minnesota DNR has confirmed the special hunts will take place on Friday, Dec. 21 to Sunday, Dec. 23, and Friday, Dec. 28 to Sunday, Dec. 30.
The unusual move has been taken because of growing concern about the fatal chronic wasting disease that is spreading among some deer herds.
The hunts will be held in Filmore, Olmsted and Winona counties southeast Minnesota, in deer permit areas 603, 347 and 348, as well as parts of areas 343 and 345 that are south of Interstate 90.
Resident and nonresident hunters can take part in the hunts, which the Minnesota DNR is launching as part of efforts to contain CWD in southeastern parts of the state, to prevent further spread.
The neurological disease, which is fatal to deer, elk and moose, is spread through direct contact with an infected deer's saliva, urine, blood, feces, antler velvet or carcass, and reducing deer numbers in afflicted areas will help remove CWD-positive animals.
Much of land included in the special hunt zones is privately-owned, and hunters are told to have permission from the landowner before hunting the land.
Permits for hunt on public lands, at Forestville State Park and Pin Oak Prairie Scientific and Natural Area, will be sold at the parks starting at noon on Wednesday.
Otherwise, permits can be obtained for free online or wherever DNR licenses are sold.