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Wild deer in Dakota County tests positive for CWD

ST. PAUL — A wild deer in Dakota County has tested positive for chronic wasting disease, the first case of the fatal brain disease discovered in that area of Minnesota, state wildlife officials said Friday.

A resident reported an adult male deer near Farmington was displaying neurological symptoms, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said. The deer was tested as part of the agency’s risk-based disease surveillance program.

The deer was found nearly 100 miles from the state’s primary CWD area near Preston, in southeastern Minnesota. DNR wildlife researcher Lou Cornicelli said officials are hopeful the disease is not widespread in the area.

Chronic wasting affects deer, elk and moose but is not known to affect human or pet health. There is no vaccine or treatment for the disease.

The DNR is developing plans to sample deer until the fall hunting season. Hunting is the primary tool for managing the disease, and the agency will identify a CWD management zone that will be at least 15 miles around the positive deer.

The DNR also will ban recreational deer feeding. Until that happens, the agency asks that residents voluntarily stop feeding deer.

Also Friday, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health reported that test results from the depopulation of a Pine County deer farm have confirmed four additional cases of chronic wasting. The first CWD-positive animals at the farm were confirmed in January, resulting in depopulation of the herd. That herd was investigated because it provided animals to a Douglas County deer farm, including a CWD-positive doe that began the disease investigation last December.