Gov. Tim Walz is proposing a shade over $4.5 million in funding over the next two years to fight the spread of chronic wasting disease in deer – which has just been confirmed for the first time in northern Minnesota.
So far, the disease that is contagious and fatal in deer has been confined to areas of southeastern Minnesota, predominantly Fillmore County.
But on Thursday, the Minnesota DNR announced that a case of the disease had also been found in a wild deer in Crow Wing County, north of Brainerd.
On Friday, Gov. Tim Walz put forward a funding package that would provide $4.57 million to tackle the spread of the disease in the next two years, and $1.1 million annual thereafter.
This money, he says, would improve the DNR's surveillance capabilities and rapid response to disease detection.
"As a lifelong sportsman, I know how urgent this issue is for Minnesotans," he said.
"The Minnesota DNR is working hard to contain chronic wasting disease. This critical funding would help ensure they have the best tools and resources available to maintain deer health and management across the state."
The DNR held additional special hunts in southeastern Minnesota at the end of December to try and eliminate more deer that may be carrying the disease.
The disease is fatal to whitetail and mule deer, as well as moose and elk and as of right now there is no cure or vaccine. The Duluth News Tribune reports that if it infects more than a third of the population in a given area, it could result in entire herds being wiped out.
It is transmitted either between infected live deer, or by the consumption of contaminated meat, or through contaminated feces, saliva and other bodily fluids that can eventually find their way into plants.