SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced a pair of information meetings to discuss Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Beltrami County, where CWD was recently discovered in captive deer. The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 28 in the commons at Bemidji High School (2900 Division St W). The second meeting will be held the following night, Wednesday, September 29, in the commons at Kelliher High School (345 4th St NW).
Rep. Rob Ecklund (DFL – International Falls) encouraged deer hunters to attend the meetings in advance of the 2021 deer opener.
“With CWD continuing to pop up in new areas across the state, Minnesotans deserve to hear directly from those responsible for implementing solutions to this crisis,” Rep. Ecklund said. “As we all work together to ensure a healthy wild white-tailed deer population in Minnesota, I hope hunters will take advantage of these opportunities as we continue efforts to stop this threat from spreading further.”
At the meetings, officials from the DNR, Board of Animal Health (BAH), and University of Minnesota’s Center for Prion Research and Outreach will give presentations on the topic. Following the panel, representatives from each organization will answer questions.
In May, the University of Minnesota’s Center for Prion Research and Outreach (MNPRO) announced a survey of a dumping site in Beltrami County – used by a nearby former deer farm to discard white-tailed deer carcasses – resulted in a positive test of CWD in at least one carcass. This year at the Capitol, Rep. Ecklund championed comprehensive CWD prevention legislation, which the House approved as part of its Environment and Natural Resources budget. The bill would have, among other things, transferred oversight of cervid farms from the BAH to the DNR, required deer farms to immediately notify the DNR of an escaped animal if the animal is not returned or captured within 24 hours, required identification of farmed white-tailed deer to include certain contact information of the owner, and other restrictions on movement of captive deer.
The Minnesota Senate – led by Republicans – refused to accept any of the recommendations.
In June, the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources approved emergency funding for an environmental assessment of the Beltrami County site. Deer permit areas impacted by this discovery are 110, the portion of 169 west of Minnesota Highway 6, 184 and 197.
Minnesotans unable to attend the meetings in person can attend virtually. Those planning to attend either in-person or virtually, or to submit a question, must register ahead of time at mndnr.gov/cwd.