This week committees began holding hearings. In the Environment and Natural Resources Finance & Policy committees on which I serve, we received an important update on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
DNR officials continue to find CWD positive wild deer in southeastern Minnesota. During the 2018 deer season the DNR conducted a significant CWD surveillance program across Minnesota, including checking deer in our area of Minnesota. The good news is there were no positives found in our area, however that was not the case in southeastern Minnesota.
The DNR has and will continue to authorize special hunts to deal with CWD in portions of southeastern Minnesota. Special hunts will take place Jan. 25 and Feb. 1 in order to gain more samples. More info on the special hunts can be found at the DNR website.
It’s important to note that, while CWD is not believed to be transferrable to humans, some officials recommend that people not eat meat from an infected animal. All deer taken in the special hunts will be sampled by the MN DNR and hunters provided with the test results. To see the results of the CWD tests taken across Minnesota to date, click here.
During the hearing on CWD I urged the DNR to take the tough steps necessary to isolate and eradicate CWD in the wild deer population. It will take many more special hunts and also require a dedicated effort by professionals from the USDA Wildlife Services Agency to create a temporary vacuum of wild deer in the areas where infected animals are found.
That level of effort was necessary to eradicate tuberculosis (TB) in the wild deer population in northwest Minnesota. To date, Minnesota is the only state to successfully eradicate TB in a wild deer population.
This week we also began discussing how to reduce healthcare costs. You will be hearing a lot about the health care provider tax, often referred to as the “sick tax.” It currently adds over $600 million annually to the health care services we purchase in Minnesota. Several years ago Governor Dayton signed off on sun setting that tax effective this year. However, there continues to be discussion about keeping it in place.
Please be safe as we experience a bit of Old Man Winter!