NDA Supports Minnesota DNR’s Emergency Action to Temporarily Halt Movement of Farmed Deer

January 7, 2020 | by National Deer Alliance

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) recently issued an emergency rule that places a temporary ban on the movement of all farmed white-tailed deer within the state. The emergency rule, which was put in place on December 23, 2019, “is a temporary, emergency action to reduce further spread of chronic wasting disease and protect Minnesota’s wild deer,” according to a MDNR press release. The rule comes after a farm-raised white-tailed doe tested positive for CWD in Douglas County in western Minnesota. The farm, a small hobby farm, has provided deer to, and received deer from, other farms within the state.

Originally, MDNR put in place a voluntary ban on the movement of all farmed white-tailed deer within the state, but ultimately decided that a mandatory ban for 30 days was the best cause of action. “We don’t take this action lightly,” MDNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said. She added, “The DNR is committed to proactively addressing CWD and doing everything we can do to protect Minnesota’s deer herd. The Douglas County positive, with its connections to other farms in the state, poses a risk to wild deer that requires emergency action."

CWD is one of the most significant threats to the future of healthy deer populations, deer hunting, and conservation that we have ever encountered. It is a neurological disease that affects deer, elk, and moose. Infected animals with clinical symptoms become emaciated and exhibit abnormal behavior including lack of fear of people, drastic weight loss, stumbling, listlessness, and loss of bodily functions. It may take more than two years for an infected animal to develop symptoms, but the disease is 100 percent fatal, and there is no known cure.

CWD is highly contagious, and the infectious agent known as prions may be passed in feces, urine, blood, and saliva. Recent research suggests that infected prions can also bind to soils and vegetation where it can be later taken up by animals. Currently, the best way to curb the spread of CWD is to limit or ban the movement and transport of live animals or potentially infected animal parts. “The National Deer Alliance fully supports MDNR’s decision to put in place a temporary ban on the movement of all farmed white-tailed deer within the state,” said NDA policy and outreach coordinator, Torin Miller. “We appreciate the state’s proactive approach to protect wild deer and to take the time necessary to investigate the situation and develop a plan of action.”

CWD was first detected in Minnesota in 2002. Since then, 73 out of more than 90,000 tested wild deer have been confirmed positive for CWD. For a full list of test results, including locations of confirmed positive tests, visit mndnr.gov/cwdcheck.