August 16, 2010
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported today that
Bovine tuberculosis (TB) tests were negative for 450 wild deer removed from
northwestern Minnesota early this year as part of disease eradication
efforts by sharpshooting.
“The lab results are encouraging for the DNR as well as our hunters,” said
Michelle Carstensen, DNR wildlife health program coordinator. “This may be
a sign that we’ve turned a corner in eradicating the disease from deer in
northwestern Minnesota.”Since bovine TB surveillance efforts began in 2005,
27 deer have tested positive for the disease. The most-recent case occurred
in fall 2009 from a hunter harvested deer. As a result, DNR expanded the
area where sharpshooters took samples earlier this year.
“The fact that no additional deer tested positive in the same area is good
news,” Carstensen said. “The prevalence of the disease in wild deer
continues to decrease and the geographic extent of the positive cases
remains very small.”
The last TB-infected cattle herd was found more than a year and a half ago
in northwestern Minnesota. Area producers continue to test their cattle in
an effort to ensure the elimination of the disease and to improve the
state’s TB status levels, an event that the Minnesota Board of Animal
Health expects to happen this October.
DNR will sample 1,000 deer in the area this fall and winter as part of its
ongoing surveillance efforts, a decrease from last year’s requirement that
1,800 deer be sampled. The higher number was difficult to achieve because
of increased harvest and aggressive removal strategies. Sampling a lower
number of deer also may lessen the need for sharpshooters to remove
additional deer after hunting season.
To help meet its sampling goals, DNR requires that all deer taken in deer
permit areas 101, 105, 111, 203, 208, 267 and 268 be registered at a big
game registration station to legally transport the harvested animal.
In-person registration allows DNR staff to obtain tissue samples for
“Our success at meeting surveillance goals depends on the cooperation of
hunters,” Carstensen said. “The more deer hunters bring in for sampling,
the fewer deer DNR must remove using sharpshooters, leaving more deer for
hunters the next fall.”