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Legislators vow to stop spread of chronic wasting disease in deer

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported this week that it has detected the state's first ever case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a wild deer.

A deer harvested by a hunter in November 2010 near Pine Island is showing strong indications of CWD in early screening tests, the DNR reports.

The National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa has yet to confirm the preliminary diagnosis.

Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, said, "We regard today's news of a possible case of CWD very seriously. We've worked on this issue for many years with the DNR and the Minnesota Board of Health and have experienced a great deal of success in protecting Minnesota's wildlife. We will begin the committee process of accepting hearings on the issue and will work toward a complete end to the spread of CWD in our state."

Senator Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, who represents a portion of southeast Minnesota near Pine Island, added, "We are very proud of our tradition of hunting and raising livestock and we will work diligently to protect it from the harmful effects of CWD. As a member of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, I look forward to working with the DNR and fellow legislators to understand the scope of this case, limit its reach and control this terrible disease."

According to the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance, CWD is found in wild deer, elk or moose in 13 other states, including Wisconsin, Illinois, North Dakota and South Dakota.

The DNR regards early detection as one of the most important management strategies of this fatal disease. Until the recent news, testing had never found a wild deer "presumed positive" for Chronic Wasting Disease.

There is no scientific evidence showing that CWD is transferable to humans.