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Outdoor Notes for Nov. 19

Deer numbers up for second firearms season weekend

Minnesota firearms hunters bagged 145,054 deer through the second weekend of deer season, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Preliminary results through the second weekend show that the number of deer registered was up 10 percent from 2016, a DNR release said. Of the deer killed, 54 percent were bucks, compared to 63 percent during the same period in 2016.

In Zone 1, in northeastern Minnesota, total firearms harvest was up 25 percent. In Zone 2, which covers the majority of the state and runs from Canada to Iowa, deer kill numbers were up 6 percent and Zone 3, in southeastern Minnesota, was down 12 percent.

"It appears as though deer harvest improved substantially since the first weekend," said Steve Merchant, wildlife populations and regulations manager. "Getting more corn out of the fields and a bit drier weather likely helped."

Based upon the number of antlerless permits available and the number of permit areas that allow multiple deer to be taken, the DNR is projecting the 2017 total deer killed to be around 200,000. That's compared to 173,213 in 2016.

In much of Minnesota, the firearms deer season ended Nov. 12. Additional deer will be hunted during the northern rifle zone season, which continues through Nov. 19; the late southeast season, which runs Nov. 18, through Nov. 26; and the muzzleloader season, which begins Nov. 25, and continues through Dec. 10. More information on deer management can be found at mndnr.gov/deer.

7 deer test presumptive positive in southeast's CWD management zone

Preliminary tests show that seven deer harvested in southeastern Minnesota's disease management zone during the first firearms deer season may be infected with chronic wasting disease.

Hunters harvested three of the seven suspect deer near Preston in deer permit area 603, where 11 other deer tested positive during last year's CWD surveillance efforts. Three others were harvested in Forestville-Mystery Cave State Park, which is still within area 603 but west of the core disease area. The remaining deer was harvested east of Wykoff and north of the park.

Test results from deer permit areas surrounding 603 aren't yet available and must be analyzed to assess the full extent of the disease and whether or not it has spread outside of the disease management zone.

Once all sampling is completed and test results received, the Department of Natural Resources will follow its CWD response plan and determine next steps, which may include boundary changes to area 603 and additional deer hunting opportunities for the public or landowners.

Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager, said it isn't clear whether the additional positives indicate a westward expansion of the disease or individual deer movements, given all the presumptive positive deer were adult males.

CWD testing is a two-step process. The initial tissue sample is analyzed to determine if the animal is presumptive positive. A final test is completed on all presumptive positive samples to confirm if the animal is infected with the disease.

The DNR expects final test results and disease confirmations for all seven deer soon. Those results and any future positives in area 603 will be posted on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck.

Since the archery deer season began in mid-September, 700 samples have been collected in area 603. Hunters brought in 499 of those samples during the first firearms deer season, which began Nov. 4 and concluded Nov. 12. Results are pending on 40 of those deer.

"The DNR wants to thank hunters who submitted samples over opening weekend," said Jim Leach, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division director. "Compliance was very high, suggesting hunters view this as a very important issue."

Hunters are reminded that mandatory testing of all adult deer harvested in area 603 continues throughout the 3B season (which starts Saturday, Nov. 18 and concludes Sunday, Nov. 26), as well during the remaining archery, muzzleloader and late seasons. Check stations are located in Preston and Chatfield.

The DNR also will open voluntary surveillance stations from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 18-19 in Rushford and Houston. The DNR encourages hunters who harvest deer around the disease management zone, in deer permit areas 343, 345, 346, 347, 348 and 349, to participate in voluntary sampling at these locations in order to collect as many samples as possible.

Check the DNR's website, mndnr.gov/cwd, for specific information on check station locations, additional CWD information and DNR efforts to keep Minnesota deer healthy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, to date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people. However, the CDC advises people not to eat meat from animals known to have CWD. Go to www.cdc.gov for more information.

Hunters reminded of whole carcass importation ban

The Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters who harvest deer, elk, moose or caribou outside of Minnesota that whole carcasses cannot be brought into the state.

The restriction is part of efforts to minimize the opportunity for chronic wasting disease to become established in Minnesota.

Only the following cervid parts may be brought into Minnesota:

• Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached.

• Meat that is boned-out or that is cut and wrapped (either commercially or privately).

• Hides and teeth.

• Antlers or clean (no brain tissue attached) skull plates with antlers attached.

• Finished taxidermy mounts.

Meat and trophy handling already are part of the trip planning process so taking the additional steps to minimize CWD risk can be added to that process. Another item to consider is the mount itself, and hunters should make those arrangements in the destination state and have the animal caped before leaving.

Alternatively, hunters can view a video at bit.ly/capeyourdeer on how to cape a deer. The same technique can be used on elk or moose. The video also includes helpful information on the carcass importation ban.

Nonresidents transporting whole or partial carcasses on a direct route through Minnesota are exempt from this restriction.

Carcass import information is available at mndnr.gov/deerimports, in the 2017 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook on page 65 and the questions and answers section on the back cover.

State's official Christmas tree for governor's residence harvested from General C.C. Andrews State Forest

A 30-foot-tall white spruce, selected as the state's official Christmas tree, was cut down Friday in the General C.C. Andrews State Forest, near Willow River.

The tree will be set up at the governor's residence, 1006 Summit Ave., St. Paul, around 9 a.m., Monday, Nov. 20. The tree will be lit Monday, Nov. 27.

DNR staff and the Conservation Corps of Minnesota cut the tree on the Friday before Thanksgiving each year from one of 59 state forests. However, the search for just the right tree begins months before. DNR foresters keep an eye out for a tall tree that's nicely shaped and well filled out. It also needs to be in a location where it will not be damaged when dropped and then easily pulled out and loaded onto a trailer.

Minnesota's state forests provide clean air and water, recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat, timber and special forest products. This year, small businesses are making 150,000 wreaths with balsam boughs harvested from state forest lands.

The estimated annual sales for Minnesota companies producing holiday wreaths exceed $23 million and Minnesota's public lands support a large share of this economic activity.

Each holiday season, half a million Christmas trees are harvested from private tree farms in Minnesota, contributing about $30 million to the state's economy. For each tree harvested, one to three trees are planted. Real Christmas trees store carbon during their lifespan. They can be chipped for mulch when the season is over, making them an environmentally friendly choice.

More information and details on viewing the tree can be found at www.mndnr.gov/forestry/state-christmas-tree.html.

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