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A dead adult doe found by a northern Minnesota resident tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease. 

The Minnesota DNR said the CWD case — the first detected in a wild deer in that specific permit area — was confirmed March 15, about a month after the animal's carcass was discovered in the backyard of a Grand Rapids home. A test done on a lymph node sample verified the deer had CWD, despite it showing no "clinical signs" of the disease, according to the DNR.

A necropsy determined it died after being hit by a vehicle. 

The agency has been on high alert for CWD for nearly two decades, and has implemented measures such as CWD testing, harvest regulations, carcass movement restrictions, and a ban on both feeding and attractants in recent years. Verified cases remain rare, with approximately 153 positives out of 106,000 tested deer (a rate of less than 1%). 

But the disease is concerning. There is no known cure and it can be fatal to not just deer, but also moose and elk. 

Wildlife management officials are watching its spread closely, particularly when it pops up somewhere new, as is the case with this most recent confirmation. It's the first verified CWD case in Permit Area 179, which hasn't been under active surveillance since 2004, the DNR said. Surveillance efforts to the west and north last fall turned up no CWD cases, 

“This new discovery doesn’t make CWD a statewide problem, but it does mean we need to take more of a statewide approach," said Kelly Straka, the DNR’s wildlife section manager, in a news release. 

The agency is taking a few steps, including:

  • Working to collect samples from road-killed deer in the Grand Rapids area
  • Exploring possible opportunities for targeted culling in the area
  • Revisiting its statewide testing approach, with things like self-mailing kits for hunters and upgraded self-service stations on the table

“The DNR has taken an aggressive approach to managing CWD in Minnesota,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen in the release. “We will continue this strong approach as we address this latest finding and as we update our statewide CWD response plan. The health of Minnesota’s wild deer herd remains a top priority for the DNR.”

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