The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has made it a point to put plans and policies in place to located areas within the state where deer have been infected by chronic wasting disease. Now, it appears they are adjusting their protocol after a recent discovery.

The DNR announced Tuesday that it is updating its chronic wasting disease response plan after the discovery of a wild white-tailed deer infected with CWD within the city of Grand Rapids. They point out this is the first time CWD has been detected in a wild deer in this deer permit area, so they are taking immediate steps to understand just how prevalent the disease is within that area.

They will be working with local road authorities to collect samples from road-killed deer, while also exploring opportunities for targeted culling where it can be performed safely. From there they will will work to revise their disease response plan as a whole, with the ultimate goal of having it better reflect a statewide approach to disease surveillance, management, control and education.

“We’ve always looked at CWD as a disease that could impact the entire state, yet implemented disease management actions as needed in each area where CWD was found,” said Kelly Straka, the DNR’s wildlife section manager. “This new discovery doesn’t make CWD a statewide problem, but it does mean we need to take more of a statewide approach.”

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According to the DNR, the enhanced statewide surveillance will include:

  • Updating the DNR’s CWD response plan this spring
  • Investigating options for hunters to use a self-mailing kit for free testing statewide
  • Expanding the taxidermist network (Partner Sampling Program) statewide
  • Upgrading and improving current design for self-service stations

Of course, the public will also be asked to provide input on future plans and help with the implementation of related policies. Such an endeavor requires the public to work in lockstep with DNR officials.

It's important to note that CWD remains rare in Minnesota, with fewer than 1% of deer having tested positive for the disease in areas where it has consistently been detected during the past five years.

The goal is to continue to keep that number very low and ultimately eliminate it altogether.

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