How to limit your exposure to CWD

There has never been a known case of CWD disease being transferred from an infected deer to a person. But some health experts say it could happen. Others say it's only a matter of time before it does, just as mad cow disease passed from cattle to humans. And health experts like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge people not to eat meat from animals known to be infected with CWD.

If you don’t have your deer tested, and don’t hunt in an area known to have CWD, here's how you can lower your exposure just in case:

  • Do not shoot, handle or consume any animal that is acting abnormally or appears to be sick. Contact your state game and fish department if you see or harvest an animal that appears sick.

  • Do not transport animal carcasses from potentially infected areas to your home state. Minnesota already bans this practice, allowing no cervid carcasses into the state. If you hunt out of state, you must bring the animal meat back removed from the carcass. Carcass rules for most states can be found at ncwildlife.org/hunting/cervidcarcass-regulations.

  • Wear latex or rubber gloves when field dressing deer.

  • Fillet the meat off the bone from your animal. Don't saw through bone, and avoid cutting through the brain or spinal cord/backbone. Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.

  • Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.

  • Do not consume brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of any deer. Normal field dressing coupled with boning out a carcass will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will remove remaining lymph nodes.

  • Have your deer tested if it comes from a potential CWD zone, such as near Brainerd or southeastern Minnesota. Any Minnesota hunter can have their deer tested by the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for $83. Call 612-625-8787.

  • If you have your deer commercially processed, request that your animal is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to meat from your animal.

  • Do not bait or feed deer. Some groups are asking hunters to stop baiting and feeding deer because it brings them together where they can share saliva and other bodily fluids. Minnesota already bans bating, feeding and even use of deer scents in CWD-positive zones.

  • Sources: Minnesota DNR, Wisconsin DNR, Wildlife Management Institute, Cwd-info.org, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Quality Deer Management Association.

Deer season by the numbers

  • The 2019 Minnesota firearms deer season for Northeastern Minnesota (the 100 series permit areas) runs for 16 days, from Saturday, Nov. 9 through Sunday, Nov. 24.

  • Shooting hours each day are a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset. In the Duluth area that's 6:32 a.m. to 5:12 p.m., but times vary depending on your location.

  • More than 450,000 hunters are expected to be afield statewide during the season and (along with archery and muzzleloader hunters) are expected to shoot about 200,000 deer over the season.

  • Last year, 32% of Minnesota firearm hunters successfully harvested a deer.

  • A legal buck is a deer having at least one antler 3 inches long. Buck fawns, sometimes called button bucks or nubbin bucks, are not legal bucks.

  • Resident firearms deer licenses are $34 in 2019.

  • Resident hunters 84 years old and older can shoot a deer of either sex in any permit area.

  • A deer license purchased after the opening day of the season is valid starting the next day after it is issued but not on the day it is issued.

Questions? DNR operators standing by

Hunters can find deer hunting information at mndnr.gov/hunting/deer. Hunting season questions can be fielded by the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

While usually closed on Sundays and holidays, the center will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 10, and Monday, Nov. 11 (Veterans Day).

To report a violation in progress, call the Turn In Poachers line at 800-652-9093. Share your stories on social media using #DeerCampMN.

Online registration requires log-in to DNR website

For the second year, hunters who harvest deer (or bear or turkey) must sign into the Minnesota DNR's electronic license system when registering a harvest online. Deer can also be registered by phone at (888) 706-6367 or in person at designated registration stations.

To register a harvest online go to mndnr.gov/buyalicense. The harvest registration system is available after hunters enter their information in the customer identification page, similar to when purchasing a license or permit. Once signed in, click on the harvest tab.

For more information go to mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting.