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Final results for area 603 expected this week

Preliminary tests show that seven deer harvested in southeastern Minnesota disease management zone during the first firearms deer season may be infected with chronic wasting disease.

Hunters harvested three of the seven suspect deer near Preston in deer permit area 603, where 11 other deer tested positive during last year’s CWD surveillance efforts. Three others were harvested in Forestville Mystery Cave State Park, which is still within area 603 but west of the core disease area. The remaining deer was harvested east of Wykoff and north of the park.

Test results from deer permit areas surrounding 603 aren’t yet available and must be analyzed to assess the full extent of the disease and whether or not it has spread outside of the disease management zone.

Once all sampling is completed and test results received, the Department of Natural Resources will follow its CWD response plan and determine next steps, which may include boundary changes to area 603 and additional deer hunting opportunities for the public or landowners.

Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager, said it isn’t clear whether the additional positives indicate a westward expansion of the disease or individual deer movements, given all the presumptive positive deer were adult males.

Testing continues on suspect deer and in 603

CWD testing is a two step process. The initial tissue sample is analyzed to determine if the animal is presumptive positive. A final test is completed on all presumptive positive samples to confirm if the animal is infected with the disease.

The DNR expects final test results and disease confirmations for all seven deer soon.

Since the archery deer season began in mid September,
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700 samples have been collected in area 603. Hunters brought in 499 of those samples during the first firearms deer season, which began Nov. 4 and concluded Nov. 12. Results are pending on 40 of those deer.

“The DNR wants to thank hunters who submitted samples over opening weekend,” said Jim Leach, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division director. “Compliance was very high, suggesting hunters view this as a very important issue.”

Hunters are reminded that mandatory testing of all adult deer harvested in area 603 continues throughout the 3B season (which starts Saturday, Nov. 18 and concludes Sunday, Nov. 26), as well during the remaining archery,
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muzzleloader and late seasons. Check stations are located in Preston and Chatfield.