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DNR to stage special hunt in southestern Minnesota

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The Department of Natural Resources will stage a special hunt over the next week in southeastern Minnesota to further work against chronic wasting disease.

In response to finding the disease in earlier deer seasons, the extended hunt will take place Jan. 6-14 in permit area 603 — which is south of Winona County and includes the cities of Whalen, Preston and Lanesboro — 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.

Mike Tenney, DNR wildlife supervisor for southeast Minnesota, said the goal is to both continue data gathering and thin the deer population in the area.

“We want as many samples as we can get down there to see what we’re dealing with,” Tenney said.

The regulations have been largely opened up for the area, with no bag limit, the antler point restriction eliminated in the area for the hunt and cross-tagging allowed.

They’re also allowing the use of unfilled 2017 deer licenses in addition to the disease management tags, which cost $2.50 are valid for does and bucks.

Shotguns, muzzleloaders and crossbows may use either a firearm or muzzleloader license, while archery equipment requires an archery license to be used. Centerfire rifles are still not allowed.

However, hunters are required to test the deer they shoot for chronic wasting in person with the DNR prior to their removal from the area.

Testing locations are Magnum Sports in Chatfield, the Preston Forestry office, Forestville State Park and Pam’s Corner Convenience in Rushford.

Due to the high number of areas testing for CWD around the country, however, the laboratory that the DNR contracts with has been unable to get the testing kits.

While they are on back order, Tenney said that rather than the three- to five-day waiting period usually in place for results, it could take one to two weeks.

As a result, they are recommending hunters properly quarter their deer and bone-out meat immediately, so that the head, spinal column and all brain material remain in the area, and then store the rest until the test results return.

“People will need to plan for that for their meat,” Tenney said.

Hunters who live outside the area would have to do so to transport their deer out of the area regardless, and there will be designated dumpsters at the testing sites to get rid of parts.

The DNR also said noted that the area’s two deer processors, R Four Meats in Chatfield and Litscher’s Processing in Rushford, are doing only limited numbers of deer during the special hunt.

After testing through the firearm seasons, six confirmed cases of chronic wasting were found in the permit area 603 and two in deer taken from a farm in Winona County.

Since finding a deer infected with chronic wasting disease above Pine Island in 2008, the numbers grew to 11 last year.

Tenney said that finding about half as many this year was an encouraging sign that the DNR can still move to eradicate the disease in the area before it spreads.

“We want as many samples as we can get down there to see what we’re dealing with.” Mike Tenney, DNR wildlife supervisor

“We want as many samples as we can get down there to see what we’re dealing with."

Mike Tenney, DNR wildlife supervisor

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