The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has temporarily banned the movement of farmed deer into and within Minnesota in an effort to protect wild deer from deadly chronic wasting disease (CWD).
Since first being discovered in a captive animal in Minnesota in 2002, CWD cases in Minnesota have slowly grown. Cases in the state remain rare, but wildlife authorities remain troubled by the disease, which has no known cure and can be fatal to deer, moose and elk.
The goal of the temporary ban is to further reduce the spread of CWD and protect Minnesota's wild deer population. The DNR says this will allow it to determine previous movements of known CWD-exposed deer and potential additional exposures.
“This disease poses a clear, immediate and serious threat to Minnesota’s wild deer, and these actions reflect what’s at stake,” DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said in a statement. “We are committed to doing everything we can to reduce the continued risk of CWD transmission in Minnesota, including from farmed deer to Minnesota’s wild whitetails.”
The DNR says it will work "thoroughly but efficiently" on this with the state Board of Animal Health, which also regulates farmed white-tailed deer. It is asking for the "full support and cooperation" of the farmed deer community.
The temporary movement ban will give the DNR time to track the movement of deer from the infected Wisconsin farm and "understand the potential risk to other herds," the release said.
According to the DNR: "The epidemiological investigations will show connections among known CWD-exposed herds, identify if there were additional exposed herds, and prevent additional transfer from potentially exposed herds. The rule provides exemptions for deer being transported to slaughter and those being transported on a direct route through the state."
Of the five white-tailed deer from the infected Wisconsin farm, two animals went to farms that are no longer in business and were subsequently moved back to farms in Wisconsin.
The other three deer moved to a farm in Minnesota that's currently active but under quarantine. Two of the deer were killed and tested negative for CWD. The third is alive and the owner is awaiting payment prior to making the animal available for testing.
This temporary movement ban is the latest action from the DNR to protect wild white-tailed deer from the deadly neurological disease. This year's hunting season will come with mandatory CWD testing for deer harvested in certain areas of the state, as the DNR looks to stay on top of the growing threat to the animals. The agency also issued a temporary ban on deer movement in the state after CWD was discovered on a deer farm in Beltrami County.
The move came just days after the agency found CWD-positive deer carcasses had been dumped outside of a quarantine area.