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Testing for CWD in deer turns up nothing

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Officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have ended a special deer hunt to test for chronic wasting disease.

All 1,180 of the whitetail deer tested by DNR officials came from within a 10-mile radius near Pine Island, where a hunter harvested a CWD-positive deer in November. None of the 1,180 deer tested positive.

The deer killed in November is the only known case of a wild, CWD-positive deer in Minnesota.

Lou Cornicelli, the DNR's big game coordinator, said the test results suggest the infection rate is low in the area.

"We likely don't have a wide-scale, broad infection of deer," Cornicelli said. "So we may have actually caught this on the leading edge. So we're in a lot better shape now than we were two months ago when we discovered the disease."

CWD doesn't pose a risk to humans, but the disease is progressively fatal for deer, elk and moose.

Officials say having removed nearly 1,200 deer from the area will minimize the potential for the disease to spread from animal to animal.

The DNR will continue to test deer for CWD in the area during the regular fall deer season. Officials will also create a new CWD management zone and other regulations that will be announced later this spring.