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No bovine TB detected in NW MN

None of the 1,618 deer that hunters harvested in and near northwestern Minnesota's bovine tuberculosis (TB) management zone displayed obvious signs of the disease, likely eliminating the need for additional hunting seasons this winter and late winter sharpshooting, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

"Because adequate samples have been obtained, there will not be a special late hunting season in permit area 101 or any additional deer removal efforts this winter -- as long as final test results do not indicate any new cases of the disease," said Michelle Carstensen, DNR Wildlife Health Program coordinator. Final test results for deer harvested this fall are expected late next spring.

Since bovine TB was first detected in cattle and deer in 2005, 27 free-ranging deer have tested positive within a 10-mile radius of the town of Skime. Additional hunting seasons and late winter sharpshooting have been conducted in the area since 2007 to reduce deer density and help eradicate the disease.

"Reducing the deer population in the area was a necessary part of our disease eradication strategy," Carstensen said. "That strategy has resulted in fewer deer testing positive for the disease each year, but hunters have been understandably frustrated because there are fewer deer to harvest."

The number and distribution of samples from hunters this year was sufficient to satisfy all requirements of the bovine TB surveillance agreement that the state has entered into with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Carstensen said.

"We are pleased with the level of sampling hunters were able to provide from the core area," she said. "The fact that all of the 450 deer taken from this area last winter by sharp-shooting were negative for bovine TB provides us with further confidence that we have adequate monitoring of the health of deer."

The Minnesota Deer Hunter's Association, both at the state and local levels, offered incentives to hunters to encourage participation in the testing efforts. These incentives included a raffle for three firearms and a lifetime deer hunting license.

"Having these raffle items available to hunters that participated in the TB sampling was a tremendous help in our ability to reach our surveillance goals," Carstensen said. "Hunters really went the distance in helping us. We greatly appreciate their cooperation and support on this important disease eradication project."