DNR to discuss chronic wasting disease in Pine Island

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Officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will hold a public meeting tonight in Pine Island to discuss Chronic Wasting Disease in wild deer.

Officials will answer questions from landowners about the agency’s efforts to manage the disease, commonly known as CWD. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Pine Island High School cafeteria.

Lou Cornicelli, big game coordinator for the DNR, said department staff will update residents on the latest CWD information but will not issue hunting permits to individual landowners at the meeting.

“We’re not going to be issuing shooting permits because they take time because you have to explain laws and what they can and can’t do,” Cornicelli said. “We’ll have a mechanism to get names and follow up with those folks really quickly.”

DNR officials have been issuing special hunting permits to some southeastern Minnesota landowners as part of the special harvest to test for the disease. As of Feb. 10, the DNR had issued 125 permits and tested 41 deer, all of which tested negative for the disease.

The permits allow landowners to shoot as many whitetail deer as they want on their property. They also allow landowners to authorize other individuals to hunt on their land.

DNR officials are removing lymph nodes from the deer carcasses to test for CWD. If the tests come back negative, hunters can keep the deer and process the meat. If they’re positive, the DNR will dispose of the carcass.

A deer-feeding ban also begins Monday to reduce the spread from deer-to-deer, according to Cornicelli. CWD doesn’t pose a risk to humans, but the disease is progressively fatal for deer, elk and moose.

Officials from a number of the other agencies, including the Minnesota Board of Animal Health and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association also will be present to answer questions.

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