December 11, 2017 - Precautionary test results show no new outbreaks of CWD in wild deer

No chronic wasting disease was detected in more than 11,000 precautionary samples from deer that hunters harvested this fall in north-central, central and southeastern Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 

“This is good news for Minnesota,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the DNR. “The results lend confidence that the disease is not spread across the landscape.”

In all, 7,813 deer were tested in the north-central area, 2,529 in the central area and 1,149 in the southeastern area outside deer permit area 603, the CWD management zone. Researchers still are submitting samples from cooperating taxidermists so final results will updated online at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck as they become available.

Given no deer with CWD were found in north-central and central Minnesota, the DNR will narrow surveillance next fall to areas closer to the farms where CWD was detected. A fourth precautionary surveillance area will be added in fall 2018 in Winona County because CWD recently was detected in captive deer there.

Precautionary testing in north-central and central Minnesota became necessary after CWD was found in multiple captive deer on farms near Merrifield in Crow Wing County and Litchfield in Meeker County. It also was conducted in the deer permit areas directly adjacent to southeast Minnesota’s deer permit area 603, the only place in Minnesota where CWD is known to exist in wild deer.

Minnesota’s CWD response plan calls for testing of wild deer after the disease is detected in either domestic or wild deer. All results from three consecutive years of testing must report CWD as not detected before DNR stops looking for the disease.

Three years of testing are necessary because CWD incubates in deer slowly. They can be exposed for as long as 18 months before laboratory tests of lymph node samples can detect the disease.

Proactive surveillance and precautionary testing for CWD is a proven strategy that allows the DNR to manage the disease by finding it early and reacting quickly and aggressively to control it. These actions, which were taken in 2005 to successfully combat bovine tuberculosis in northwestern Minnesota deer and in 2010 to eliminate a CWD infection in wild deer near Pine Island, provide the best opportunity to eliminate disease spread.

Precautionary testing is necessary to detect the disease early. Without early detection, there’s nothing to stop CWD from becoming established at a relatively high prevalence and across a large geographic area. At that point, there is no known way to control the disease.

“Overall, hunter cooperation and public support has been tremendous,” Cornicelli said. “While there are always challenges when you conduct this type of surveillance effort, it really couldn’t have been successful without the cooperation of hunters, taxidermists, landowners and the businesses that allowed us to operate check stations.”

Complete information about CWD and DNR efforts to keep Minnesota deer healthy are available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwd.



December 11, 2017 - Boundaries and rules for late season deer hunt in CWD zone announced

Boundaries for a special late-season deer hunt to help control chronic wasting disease in southeastern Minnesota’s Fillmore County have been expanded to include portions of three surrounding deer permit areas, the Department of Natural Resources said. 

The expansion of boundaries for the nine-day hunt that lasts from Saturday, Jan. 6, to Sunday, Jan. 14, became necessary when CWD test results of harvested deer revealed two infected deer in Forestville State Park and a suspected infection north of the disease’s core area around Preston.

 During the upcoming hunt, deer may be taken in an approximate 10-mile radius surrounding the new discoveries. That area includes all of deer permit area 603 as well as the portion of permit area 345 south of Interstate 90, the southern portion of permit area 347 and the northern portion of permit area 348. A map of the area and complete details are available on the DNR’s website at mndnr.gov/603hunt.

“Hunters must plan ahead,” said Lou Cornicelli, the DNR’s wildlife research manager. “Private land makes up most of the area and hunters must have landowner permission. Public land in the area likely will be crowded. And hunting opportunities will be limited and available only by permit at Forestville State Park and Pin Oak Prairie Scientific and Natural Area.”

Within 24 hours of harvest, each deer must be taken to one of four stations where DNR staff will register the deer and collect lymph node tissue for CWD testing. All electronic registration will be turned off.

With the exception of fawns, deer cannot be moved from the hunt area without a test result that shows CWD was not detected. Prior to test results, hunters may properly quarter their deer and bone-out meat but the head, spinal column and all brain material must remain in the area until the animal’s test results show a not-detected status.

Designated dumpsters where hunters can dispose of carcasses and parts will be available in Preston and Forestville.

A refrigerated trailer will be available in Preston for temporary storage of the entire carcass if hunters choose to wait for the test result before processing their deer. After receiving a not-detected test result for the deer, the hunter can take the entire deer out of the area.

Since the mid-September start of the archery season 1,334 deer have been tested in permit area 603 and results have shown six confirmed and one suspect cases of CWD. Although the number of CWD-infected deer is down from the 11 positives found last season, three of the new positives were found outside the core area.

“We were glad to see the prevalence go down but we’re unsure if we have a disease expansion or if males recently moved into a new area,” Cornicelli said. “Test results of deer taken during this special hunt will help us determine what the new disease management zone boundary will look like in 2018.”

Complete information about CWD and DNR efforts to keep Minnesota deer healthy are available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwd.

Special hunt rules

  • Hunt dates are Jan. 6-14, 2018.
  • Hunt is open to residents and nonresidents.
  • There is no bag limit, the antler point restriction will be eliminated in this area and cross-tagging (party hunting) will be allowed.
  • Hunters can use any unfilled 2017 license or purchase disease management tags for $2.50. You do not need a deer hunting license to purchase disease management tags, which are valid for deer of either sex.
  • Legal firearms are shotguns, muzzleloader or crossbows using either a firearm or muzzleloader license. Archery equipment must be used if the person is hunting with an archery license. Centerfire rifles are not allowed.
  • All deer must be registered in person at one of the stations below. Registration stations will be staffed 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily during the season: Chatfield – Magnum Sports, 20 Main St. S; Preston – Preston Forestry office, 912 Houston St.; Forestville State Park; Rushford – Pam’s Corner Convenience, at the intersection of Minnesota highways 16 and 43.
  • Submission of a CWD sample is mandatory.
  • All deer will be tagged and tested by DNR staff. Fawns will be allowed to leave the zone.
  • Carcasses from adult deer must remain in the zone until a “not detected” test is reported. This test takes three to four business days so hunters should make the appropriate arrangements prior to killing a deer.
  • Test results can be checked on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck or by calling the DNR Information Center at 888-646-6367.

Hunting at Forestville, Pin Oak Prairie and Cherry Grove
Forestville State Park and Pin Oak Prairie SNA will both be open to limited deer hunting during the special hunt. To avoid overcrowding, permits for these areas will be issued on a first come, first served basis starting at noon on Monday, Dec. 18.

Forestville State Park will remain open to visitors during the special hunt.

Hunters must have a filled or unfilled 2017 firearm or muzzleloader license to obtain a permit.

There is no group application for these hunts. Permits can be obtained online or wherever DNR licenses are sold. There is no fee for these permits.

The same hunt rules as described for permit area 603 apply to these areas. Successful hunters can use any unfilled tag, or purchase disease management permits for $2.50.

Specific hunt numbers, dates and available permits are:

  • 801: Forestville State Park, Jan. 6-9, 2018, 130 permits.
  • 802: Forestville State Park, Jan. 10-14, 2018,130 permits.
  • 803: Pin Oak Prairie SNA, Jan. 6-9, 2018, five permits.
  • 804: Pin Oak Prairie SNA, Jan. 10- 14, 2018, five permits.

The Cherry Grove Blind Valley SNA, which adjoins the Cherry Grove Wildlife Management Area, also is open to deer hunting and no special permit is required.

Food safety
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, to date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people. However, the CDC advises people not to eat meat from animals known to have CWD. Go to www.cdc.gov for more information.



December 11, 2017 - Pheasant hunting a great excuse to get outdoors in December

Pheasant hunters still have time to harvest roosters this December. 

“We had a late corn harvest which affected the early pheasant season but things are shaping up nicely for late-season hunting,” said Nicole Davros, farmland wildlife research supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Additionally, despite the lower overall count on our roadside surveys this year, our rooster index went up slightly. This means there are still birds to chase out there.”

Field conditions were wet enough that the corn harvest was significantly delayed this fall.

“Now that the crops are out of the fields, there are fewer places to hide and hunters should be seeing more roosters,” Davros said.

Despite warmer weather in late November, pheasants are already using both grassland cover and winter cover such as cattail sloughs and willow thickets, according to Scott Roemhildt, DNR Walk-in Access Program coordinator.

“Hunters who are willing to work these tougher-to-reach areas will have opportunities to harvest birds,” Roemhildt said. “The colder weather in our forecast will make wetlands more accessible to hunters as the water freezes up.”

Both Davros and Roemhildt agree that late-season pheasant hunting is a great excuse to get away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, regardless of whether any roosters are put in your bag.

“Pheasant hunting is a great way to stretch your legs and clear your mind when things get hectic,” Davros said.

Added Roemhildt: “It’s also a chance to introduce someone new to pheasant hunting as kids get time off from school and family comes to visit.”

On Dec. 1, the daily bag limit increased to three roosters with a possession limit of nine roosters.

Hunters need a small game license and a pheasant stamp to hunt pheasants in Minnesota. A small game license costs $22 for Minnesota residents age 18 to 64, and the pheasant stamp costs $7.50. Pheasant hunters 65 and older need to buy a small game license for $13.50 but are not required to buy a stamp. Hunters age 16 to 17 must buy a $5 small game license but do not need to buy a stamp, and hunters under 16 can hunt pheasants without a license or stamp.

Hunters can also purchase a Walk-In Access validation for $3 to gain additional public hunting opportunities on private land that is enrolled in the program. As of September, 25,335 acres of land across 241 sites in western and southern Minnesota have been enrolled in the program.

Minnesota’s 2017 pheasant season is open through Monday, Jan. 1. Shooting hours are 9 a.m. to sunset. Additional details on pheasant hunting are available at mndnr.gov/hunting/pheasant. Additional details on the Walk-In Access Program are available at mndnr.gov/walkin.



December 11, 2017 - DNR seeks comments on EAW for Wright Bog Horticultural Peat project

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is accepting public comments on an environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) prepared for the Wright Bog Horticultural Peat project in Carlton County, about 8 miles west of Cromwell. 

Premier Horticulture, Inc. proposes to develop approximately 316 acres of the Wright Bog in Carlton County for horticultural peat extraction. The proposed site would be cleared and ditched, with drained water discharged into Little Tamarack River. Sphagnum moss peat would be collected using the milled peat vacuum harvesting method.

The agency will take comments during a 30-day public review period ending at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 10.

A copy of the EAW is available online on the project page.  A hard copy may be requested by calling 651-259-5126.

The EAW is available for public review at:

  • DNR library, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.
  • DNR northeast regional office, 1201 East Highway 2, Grand Rapids.
  • Minneapolis Central Library, Government Documents, 2nd Floor, 300 Nicollet Mall.
  • Duluth Public Library, 520 West Superior Street, Duluth.
  • Carlton Public Library, 213 Chestnut Avenue, Carlton.
  • McGregor Public Library, Center Avenue and Second Street, McGregor.

The EAW notice will be published in the Dec. 11 EQB Monitor. Written comments must be submitted no later than 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10, to the attention of Bill Johnson, EAW project manager, Environmental Policy and Review Unit, Ecological and Water Resources Division, DNR, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4025.

Electronic or email comments may be sent to environmentalrev.dnr@state.mn.us with “Wright Bog” in the subject line. If submitting comments electronically, include name and mailing address. Written comments may also be sent by fax to 651-296-1811. Names and addresses will be published as part of the EAW record.



News & Events SEP 8th

GENE GRANDNER

Gene Grandner passes away -

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DNR News DEC 11th

Precautionary test results show no new outbreaks of CWD in wild deer

No chronic wasting disease was detected in more than 11,000 precautionary samples from deer that hunters harvested this fall in north-central, central and southeastern Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.  “This ...

Read More