The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Monday morning announced an emergency rule temporarily prohibiting the importation and movement of farmed white-tailed deer into and within Minnesota.
This emergency action takes effect immediately as the agency tries to track down farmed deer in the state that may have been exposed to chronic wasting disease.
After legislative action this year, the DNR is now co-managing farmed deer in the state with the Board of Animal Health.
The action comes after a recent discovery that a CWD-positive farm in Wisconsin shipped 387 farmed white-tailed deer to farms in seven states, including Minnesota. Three farms in Minnesota ultimately received a total of five deer from the infected farm.
Minnesota has about 255 deer farms.
“This disease poses a clear, immediate and serious threat to Minnesota’s wild deer, and these actions reflect what’s at stake,” DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said in a statement. “We are committed to doing everything we can to reduce the continued risk of CWD transmission in Minnesota, including from farmed deer to Minnesota’s wild whitetails.”
This temporary movement ban will provide time to track the movement of deer from the infected farm and understand the potential risk to other herds. The rule provides exemptions for deer being transported to slaughter and those being transported on a direct route through the state.
The DNR was informed in late September that three Minnesota farms received a total of five white-tailed deer from the infected Wisconsin farm. Two of those deer went to farms that no longer are in business, and the two animals subsequently moved back to farms in Wisconsin.
The other three deer were moved to a farm in Minnesota that’s currently active. Two of those deer were killed and tested negative for CWD. The third deer is still alive and the owner is awaiting payment prior to making the animal available for testing. The farm where this animal lives is currently under quarantine.
A debate continues in Minnesota over a proposal by deer hunting groups to buy out and close all existing deer farms in the state and then ban any new deer farms to slow the spread of always-fatal CWD to wild deer.
St. Louis County in September became the first county in the state to place a temporary ban on any new deer farms within the county.