The first suspected case of chronic wasting disease in a wild deer along Minnesota’s border with North Dakota has prompted the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to implement voluntary CWD sampling for all deer harvested in this area during the 2021 firearms season.

Hunters who harvest deer in permit areas 261 and 262, which are located between Moorhead on the south and Oslo on the north, are strongly encouraged to leave samples at self-service stations in Neilsville and Climax. Once exact locations are established for these two stations, details and instructions will be available on the DNR website, alongside information about sampling stations in CWD surveillance, management and control zones.

Preliminary test results from a deer harvested southwest of Climax strongly indicate a CWD infection. Confirmation of the initial result is expected next week.

No cases of CWD had been reported in wild or captive deer in nearby areas, and no CWD sampling requirements were in place. The hunter voluntarily collected the sample and paid for a private test. When preliminary results came back positive, the hunter contacted the DNR.

Testing is free for deer harvested in permit areas 261 and 262 as well as any other deer permit area designated a CWD surveillance, management or control zone. Hunters outside a CWD zone can collect lymph node samples and pay a small fee for a CWD test. Complete video instructions on how to properly collect a lymph node sample and laboratory information is available on the DNR website.

CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects cervids, including white-tailed deer. It is found globally and in about half of the states in the U.S. CWD remains relatively rare in Minnesota, but is a concern as there is no known cure.

The DNR continues to take aggressive steps to combat CWD and its spread. So far 118 cases of CWD have been documented in Minnesota’s wild deer herd, most of them in the southeastern part of the state. The disease is also being actively and aggressively managed near Bemidji, the Brainerd Lakes area and in the south metropolitan area.

Complete information about CWD is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwd.

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