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Minnesota Legislature

Lawmakers hear of efforts to contain chronic wasting disease

Michelle Carstensen, DNR wildlife health group leader, provides an update on chronic wasting disease efforts during Tuesday’s House division and Senate committee for environment and natural resources finance hearing. Photo by Andrew VonBank

State environment officials updated lawmakers Tuesday on efforts to combat the spread of chronic wasting disease — a fatal brain disease afflicting deer, elk and moose — that has put the state’s deer population at risk.

The contagious, fatal neurological disease causes dramatic weight loss, stumbling and other symptoms in deer. There is no vaccine or treatment for the disease and that, officials say, makes disposing of infected or potentially-infected carcasses critical to stemming chronic wasting’s spread.

The update on efforts to combat CWD was delivered to a joint meeting of the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance Division and the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee.

Those plans include increased testing of deer in designated areas of the state, a deer dumpster program the Legislature passed during the 2019 session, and landfill areas to dispose of incinerated deer carcasses.

There is no known danger to humans related to CWD, but officials have warned the disease’s impacts on the state’s $1 billion-a-year deer hunting industry could be dramatic.

WATCH Full video of Tuesday’s hearing


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