Don't feed the deer.
That's the Minnesota DNR's message to five counties in southeast Minnesota, as it tries to stop the spread of a deadly brain disease.
Chronic Wasting Disease is that's fatal to deer, elk and moose, but there's no indication it can harm humans. Two infected deer were recently discovered near Lanesboro, marking the first cases of the disease in Minnesota since 2010.
Since then, the DNR has been implementing its response plan, with several new pieces rolled out Monday.
“One simple step that anyone can do to help prevent the spread of disease is to stop feeding deer,” Dr. Lou Cornicelli, a wildlife research manager with the DNR, said in a news release.
The deer-feeding ban will go into effect later this month in Fillmore, Houston, Mower, Olmsted and Winona counties. The DNR notes the ban is in effect for a wide area because they don't know the extent of the infection. The most probable way Chronic Wasting Disease is spread is when the animals gather together closely – like if they're at a feeder, the DNR says.
Disease management zone
The DNR also announced a 370-mile disease management zone, which is roughly bordered by Chatfield, Arendahl, Canton and Bristol. The zone makes up the area of greatest concern for the disease, the DNR notes.
One of the actions planned for inside this management zone is a special late-season deer hunt, which will go from Dec. 31 through Jan. 15. Additional details on this will be released later, the DNR says.
More details on how people can help stop the spread of CWD will be shared at a public meeting in Preston on Thursday. Officials will discuss the management zone, the deer-feeding ban, the late-season hunt, landowner shooting permits, among other things. For more information on the meeting, click here.
The DNR also says that hunters are still being urged to get their deer tested. All they have to do is fill out a form and place the head of the harvested deer in one of the drop boxes, which are located Chatfield, Harmony, Lanesboro, Preston and Wykoff. This goes for deer harvested in specific permit areas. For more information, click here.