The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Monday said it's immediately banning any feeding of deer in Carlton and Pine counties in the ongoing effort to battle back against chronic wasting disease.
The DNR initiated the ban starting Monday, Feb. 24, for areas near where yet another deer farm deer was confirmed in January to have died from chronic wasting disease, this time in eastern Pine County.
Wildlife biologists say feeding deer draws them to gather in larger groups, increasing the chance they will have physical contact and increasing the chance any disease like CWD night spread.
The new ban includes Carlton, Pine, Chisago and Kanabec counties in eastern Minnesota. In addition, deer feeding is being banned in Douglas and Pope counties after another deer farm deer near Alexandria was confirmed to have CWD in December.
A deer feeding and attractant ban will remain in Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Hubbard, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Mower, Olmsted, Steele, Todd, Wabasha, Wadena and Winona counties — areas of southwestern and central Minnesota where CWD has been found. Attractant bans are put in place only when wild deer have been confirmed to carry CWD. Deer attractants can be natural or manufactured and include items containing deer urine, blood, gland oil, feces or other bodily fluids.
“Deer often gather around feed and attractants, and that close contact encourages disease spread,” said Barbara Keller, the DNR’s big game program leader, in a statement announcing the expanded feeding ban. “That’s why we’re asking all Minnesotans to help prevent the spread of this deadly disease by following these feeding and attractant bans.”
In counties where deer feeding is banned, people need to remove any grains, fruits, nuts and other food that entices deer. People who feed birds or small mammals need to make sure that deer can't access the food — at least 6 feet above ground level. In areas where the attractant ban is also in place, people must remove any liquid food scents, salt, minerals and other natural or manufactured products that attract deer.
In some rare good news on the CWD front, Starting July 1, the DNR will remove the feeding ban from Kandiyohi, McLeod, Meeker, Renville and Wright counties, as CWD was not detected in any wild deer in the third consecutive year of wild deer disease testing in those areas.
CWD is an always-fatal neurological disease that affects the cervid family, which includes deer, elk and moose. CWD was first detected in a captive elk in Minnesota in 2002. Since then, the DNR has tested more than 90,000 wild deer in the state. To date, 79 wild deer have been confirmed positive for CWD in Minnesota in addition to dozens of game farm animals.
For more information, go to dnr.state.mn.us/cwd.