Suspected case of chronic wasting disease found in northwestern Minnesota deer

two people dissect a tissue sample in a lab
University of Minnesota researchers Peter Christenson and Tiffany Wolf remove lymph nodes from a deer carcass for sampling.
Courtesy Marc Schwabenlander

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reporting the first suspected case of chronic wasting disease in a wild deer along the state’s western border.

Acting wildlife research manager Seth Goreham said the suspected case was found after a hunter paid for a test on the deer killed along the Red River near Climax during a recent youth hunting season.

"He's an avid outdoorsman who tests all of his deer,” explained Goreham. “There was actually nothing about the deer that made it suspicious. It was a normal, healthy looking adult male."

“Thanks to this hunter’s early discovery, we have the chance to act quickly and be proactive,” he said.

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Results from a second test to confirm the case are expected by next week, but Goreham said the preliminary test results strongly indicate a CWD infection.

There have been no previous reported cases of CWD in wild or captive deer in the area.

The DNR is implementing voluntary CWD testing along the border with North Dakota between Moorhead and Oslo in hunting zones 261 and 262 during the firearms deer season that opens November 6th.

“We’re asking hunters to submit samples so we can determine the extent of CWD in the area and take steps to help control the spread,” said Goreham.

Self-service testing sites, where hunters can leave deer heads or lymph nodes, will be located in the communities of Climax and Nielsville.

"And we're going to leave those there through the remainder of the firearm season,” he said, “And we're just encouraging hunters in those deer permit areas to bring their harvested deer heads or lymph nodes and submit them for voluntary sampling."

So far 118 cases of CWD have been documented in Minnesota’s wild deer herd, most in the southeastern part of the state.

Goreham said the DNR has also notified North Dakota Game and Fish Department officials because the deer was killed close to the state border.