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DNR deer culling starts Sunday in Grand Rapids

The effort will see if more deer may be carrying chronic wasting disease

deer
White-tailed deer. The DNR wil begin a program of selecitvely culling of deer in southwestern Grand Rapids on Sunday to see if more deer in the area have chronic wasting disease.
Steve Kuchera/ 2017 file / Duluth News Tribune
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GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. — The Department of Natural Resources will begin culling whitetail deer in the city Sunday in response to a wild deer in the city that recently tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

Sharpshooters with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services division will selectively kill deer in the southwestern portions of Grand Rapids near where a wild deer was retrieved out of a homeowner's yard and which tested positive for CWD, the always-fatal neurological disease that is spreading across North America.

It is the first wild deer in Northeastern Minnesota to test positive for the disease.

Because tissue samples must be harvested to test for CWD, the deer are being killed to if the disease has spread to other deer in the immediate area. Selective culling of deer could also, if the disease is present, slow the spread by reducing deer densities in the area.

The DNR also will be collecting deer killed by vehicle collisions in the area to test for CWD in those carcasses.

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The DNR said it was moving quickly, before deer begin to spread-out on the landscape as snow melts and spring fawning season begins. The selective culling will occur where the DNR has secured landowner permission and where it is safe to do so.

After the deer are sampled, venison from the culled deer will be processed and donated to the local community.

CWD affects deer, elk and moose and is caused by prions, which are abnormal proteins that self-replicate within an infected animal. Prions are highly resistant to disinfectants, heat or freezing. There are no vaccines or treatments for CWD.

It remains unclear if the disease moved into the area by being spread between wild animals or if it may have come from infected animals moved by humans - live deer moved between deer farms, deer carcasses, trophy deer heads, etc.

Grand Rapids residents can find out more about the culling effort by calling the DNR’s Grand Rapids Area Wildlife office at 218-328-8954 or emailing grandrapids.wildlife@state.mn.us .

A deer feeding ban already is in place for Itasca County And a deer scent ban will be imposed for the 2022 hunting seasons. Hunters who harvest a deer near Grand Rapids will be required to have a sample from their deer tested for CWD, at no cost, by the DNR.

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To utilize some of the venison in my freezer, I took a friend’s advice and made venison summer sausage.

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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