Deer feeding, attractant bans expand

A newly discovered instance of chronic wasting disease in the Brainerd Lakes area will result in three more years of sampling and other disease management efforts for that area. In addition, following the confirmation of a CWD-positive deer in late October in Polk County near the North Dakota border, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will expand its deer feeding and attractant ban to include most of northwestern Minnesota.

“These are precautionary but necessary measures,” said Michelle Carstensen, wildlife health program supervisor for the Minnesota DNR. “Continued sampling allows us to monitor the extent of CWD in the Brainerd area. Expanding the feeding ban around Climax and Bemidji eliminates one layer of controllable risk associated with the concentration of wild deer at food placed by humans.”

Brainerd Lakes 

CWD discovery

One of the 1,234 deer that hunters harvested thus far this fall in deer permit area 604 tested positive for CWD. The area, which stretches north from Brainerd to Pine River and eastward to Aitkin, was in its final year of planned CWD surveillance and management because the disease had not been detected there since a wild doe tested positive in 2019. That initial discovery in wild deer came after testing in 2016 revealed that a deer farm within permit area 604 was infected with CWD.

“Like us, area residents and hunters were optimistic that deer management could return to normal,” Carstensen said. “It’s unfortunate but this discovery resets the clock, and CWD management measures will remain in place through at least the fall of 2024.”

With nearly 15,000 wild deer in the area tested since 2017 and only two positives found, the DNR is confident CWD is not prevalent or widespread in this area’s wild deer population. But continued testing as well as other efforts to help reduce risks of CWD spread – such as more liberal harvest regulations, carcass movement restrictions and a ban on feeding and attractants – are the best ways to minimize the risk of CWD becoming established in the area.

Preliminary fall 

sampling results

North central (Brainerd Lakes area): Of the 1,234 deer tested so far this fall, a single 1½-year-old male tested positive. The infected deer was harvested about 8 miles from the location where the first wild infected deer was detected. Since 2019, this is the only deer that tested positive from all 6,107 deer sampled in this zone..

East central: No CWD detected in the 1,369 deer tested.

West central: No CWD detected in the 369 deer tested.

Northwest: No CWD detected in the 1,782 deer tested.

Climax area: No CWD detected in the 65 deer tested.

More CWD information

Complete CWD test results, feeding and attractant ban details, CWD management history and hunter information, including how and where to participate in two upcoming December disease management hunts, is available on the DNR website.