Late last year, hunters managed to kill three deer which proved to be affected by the chronic wasting disease. As a result, Minnesota wildlife officials decided to implement a disease management zone and allow for a mass hunt at the beginning of 2017 in order to prevent the disease from spreading.
The first two cases of deer infected with the chronic wasting disease were discovered in Fillmore County in November. The third case was identified in late December after the deer was shot around 5 miles north from the first two deer.
As a response to these cases of the disease, the Minnesota Department of Natural resources decided to implement a disease management zone in the surrounding area measuring 371-square miles. The best hopes to prevent the spread of the disease is to take aggressive action against all possible infected whitetail deer in the region.
As such, DNR officials have started a sanctioned mass hunt of the animals as a way to reduce the chances of healthy deer encountering the infected ones. The mass hunt has started on 31 December 2016 and it’s set to end 15 January. DNR officials have reported that hunters have killed 344 deer by now, around on third of the total 900 that they are hoping to remove from the region.
The current ongoing hunt will also be followed by a landowner hunt. The DNR has offered around 115 permits to landowners which allows them or the people they authorize to kill deer on their property as they see fit.
Researchers will examine the bodies of the dead animals in order to determine whether the disease is widespread or limited to a few animals. However, it doesn’t seem to bode well as they have discovered two more deer suspected of being infected with the chronic wasting disease. If the deer are confirmed positive, this could lead officials to increase the required number of whitetail deer being hunted in order to determine how far the disease has spread.
Chronic wasting disease is fatal to deer, elk, and moose as it causes severe brain lesions. It leads to animals progressively losing weight and exhibiting abnormal behavior until they eventually die. The disease is easily transmissible to other animals, and can even persist in the soil for years.
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