Minnesota DNR Final CWD Management Briefing (4/7/11)

The Minnesota DNR held a final teleconference today on their Chronic Wasting Disease surveillance efforts new Pine Island, Minnesota—the location where a single deer tested positive for the disease late last year.

I won’t cover most of the details that can be read in the press release found HERE, but what follows are some tidbits of information gleaned from the question/answer session of the teleconference:

  • The MN DNR was very pleased with the cooperation and assistance by the public on this matter.   In particular, they were impressed how well the private landowners and several conservation organizations worked together on this important effort.
  • The fact that no additional deer tested positive is seen as great news from the DNR that this situation was caught on the front-end so early.
  • This fall hunters can expect a CWD Zone declared in the hunting regulations.   It will likely be the same area that was used in this most recent surveillance effort.
  • This means there will be continued MANDATORY testing of all deer taken within this zone.   In fact, many people in the public have been requesting this mandatory testing continue.   There will be voluntary testing in many of the deer management zones surrounding the CWD zone, once this is established.
  • It also means this zone will likely see more liberalized season and bag limits.   This is mostly due to the fact the area tends to have a high wintering deer density which can add to the CWD problem.
  • It is highly likely the fall firearms season for the CWD zone will be lengthened with fewer restrictions.
  • At this point the DNR is not sure if this will be a short or long term management concern.   It will depend on what happens in the future in regards to testing results.
  • The DNR hopes to have the fall deer hunting plans (hunting regs) finalized within the next month or so.   This will give hunters in this area ample lead time so they can plan their fall hunting activities.
  • Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game coordinator, indicated that within this recent testing area on average there are 3.5 to 4.5 deer harvested per square mile (during a normal fall hunting season).   Because this area historically has such high deer densities, that is the reason why the DNR will likely want to increase those harvest numbers.
  • In fact, the DNR figures this fall they will likely get a surveillance size quite similar in scope to what was recently just accomplished.
  • The DNR will not be doing any additional population assessments until late fall/winter.   With the summer foliage and dispersion of the herd it is just too difficult to do with any effectiveness.
  • Expect the recreational feeding ban for deer to remain in effect for some time within this CWD area of concern.

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