Minnesota deer hunters in several parts of the state must bring their harvested deer to sampling stations to be tested for chronic wasting disease during the opening weekends of firearms seasons.
Mandatory testing applies to opening weekend of the statewide A season (Nov. 6-7) and opening weekend of the southeast-only B season (Nov. 20-21). It is part of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources approach designed to limit the spread of the disease and keep Minnesota’s wild deer healthy.
“Protecting our wild deer is a shared responsibility. Thank you to hunters who help combat CWD by submitting samples,” said Barbara Keller, big game program leader. “These samples provide data that help us better understand the prevalence of the disease in wild deer.”
Hunters only need to know the number of the deer permit area (DPA) where they will be hunting to determine if CWD sampling is required. By visiting mndnr.gov/deerhunt and locating the grouping containing their DPA, hunters can access comprehensive information and resources for planning a successful deer hunt.
Beyond mandatory testing, hunters also need to consider where and how their harvested deer will be processed and whether a field-dressed animal can be legally transported from the deer permit area where it is harvested.
The DNR conducts testing in areas where CWD has been discovered in wild or captive white-tailed deer. Depending on its proximity to known cases of CWD and whether CWD has been found in wild deer, a DPA can be designated a management, control or surveillance zone.
During opening weekends of the A and B deer seasons, any deer 1 year or older that is harvested from a DPA designated as a CWD zone must be submitted for testing. The only exceptions are DPAs 213 and 273, where DNR is in the second year of evaluating a risk-based surveillance strategy and testing is voluntary. In DPAs 213 and 273, the DNR is collecting samples at self-service stations throughout all deer seasons.
The mandatory sampling requirements mean that after field dressing their deer, hunters in CWD zones need to take them to a sampling station. The DNR will staff sampling stations during mandatory weekends. DNR staff will remove lymph nodes, and the DNR will submit the tissue for laboratory testing. Self-service sampling station options also will be available for hunters who would prefer to drop off their deer heads rather than having staff take the samples at stations.
DNR staff will retrieve the heads, remove the lymph nodes and submit the tissue for sampling. Sampling stations are listed on the CWD page at dnr.state.mn.us/cwd/index.
There are options for hunters who want to have their deer mounted by a taxidermist to get the deer sampled without ruining the cape of the deer. Hunters should check the CWD page for a list of cooperating taxidermists that will sample the deer for the DNR.
Hunters can also cape the head themselves prior to bringing it to the sampling location, and a video showing how to cape a deer is on the DNR website at dnr.state.mn.us/cwd/videos.
Hunters must register their deer within 48 hours of harvest and before the deer is processed — whether by phone, internet or in person. Harvest registration will not be available at CWD sampling stations.
Hunters can check for their CWD test results online at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck by entering their nine-digit MDNR number found on licenses and site tags.