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DNR issues 30-day ban on moving farmed white-tailed deer in Minnesota

A temporary ban on moving farm deer comes in response to the discovery earlier this month of a chronic wasting disease-positive deer on a Douglas County hobby farm. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants time to investigate the Douglas County case and other farms from where the deer may have come.

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Sarah Strommen, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Photo courtesy of the DNR

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources issued an emergency 30-day ban on the movement of all farmed white-tailed deer in the state effective on Monday.

The ban comes in response to the discovery of chronic wasting disease in a farmed white-tailed deer in Douglas County earlier this month.

Commissioner Sarah Strommen told reporters in a conference call on Monday that additional time is needed to investigate the Douglas County case and determine if there are connections to any other deer farms in the state. She said it is prudent and important to “proactively address and get in front of this real problem of chronic wasting disease.”

An eight-year-old doe kept on a Douglas County hobby farm was killed by its pen mate and subsequently tested positive for chronic wasting disease. The owner euthanized the pen mate, a buck, and submitted its tissue for testing. Those results are not yet known, according to the DNR.

The two deer were the only deer kept at the hobby farm.

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The Minnesota Board of Animal Health on Dec. 11 rejected a proposal to designate the state as a disease control zone. The designation would have banned commercial deer movement for 30 days.

The Board of Animal Health instead urged a voluntary ban on movement while the Douglas County case is investigated. The voluntary ban is supported by the Minnesota Deer Farms Association, according to its Facebook page.

Commissioner Strommen said the DNR and Board of Animal Health are working cooperatively to investigate the Douglas County case.

The movement ban applies only to the movement of white-tailed deer. The state has 222 farms licensed for white-tailed deer, part of a total of 323 farms licensed for cervids of all types, according to information from the Board of Animal Health.

The Board of Animal Health recorded the movements of 595 white-tailed deer from farm to farm within the state in 2018. The records show that deer farms sold 593 white-tailed deer out of state that year, and imported 82.

The Board of Animal Health requires that deer farmers have a veterinarian certify each deer to be moved, and they must record and report each movement.

Col. Rodmen Smith, director of enforcement for the DNR, said the state and Board of Animal Health jointly inspected the Douglas County farm after the deer tested positive for chronic wasting disease. The DNR and Board of Animal Health will now trace back from where the Douglas County deer came. They want to determine if there is any potential risk for any of those farms. They also want to know if any deer were moved from the Douglas County site to other farms, he told reporters.

Strommen said the DNR wants to do all it can to protect the state’s wild deer population. She does not believe the DNR has ever issued a movement ban on farmed deer prior to this. She said it’s important to get ahead of the threat posed by chronic wasting disease. “It’s become apparent addressing this farm by farm, positive deer by positive deer, simply isn’t working,” she said.

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