There will be some changes for the deer season this fall. First, the opener for the firearm season will be Nov. 9, a week later than last year. This is because Thanksgiving occurs on the fourth Thursday of the month and the firearm deer season opens on the third Saturday before Thanksgiving so there are three weekends of hunting in the 100 series of deer permit areas.

Then due to the ongoing concerns of CWD being detected in game farm deer in a game farm near Merrifield several years ago and then in a wild deer near the farm recently, there will be a new CWD management zone that will apparently affect portions of deer permit areas 155, 171, and 242. The exact boundary of this CWD permit area has not been finalized yet.

 The purpose of this CWD zone is to increase hunting opportunities with liberalized bag limits to reduce deer densities, limit the potential for disease transmission, and remove any additional positive deer from the landscape.

This could affect the planned archery hunt scheduled for the city of Aitkin this fall as the City will either be within the CWD zone in its entirety or out of the zone.

So, being proactive in Minnesota is important as we do not want the problems that Wisconsin has with CWD. Wisconsin has tested thousands of deer that were positive for CWD and have been found in far greater geographic areas than in Minnesota. In Minnesota, more than 64,000 wild deer have been tested since 2002 and CWD was detected in about 30 deer.

At a 1200-acre parcel managed for deer and deer hunting Wisconsin, last year 32 deer were harvested and nine tested positive for CWD, a rate of 28%. On one game farm, 67 deer escaped between 2009 and 2015. This farm had CWD-infected deer and the 228-head herd was killed. 34 of those deer tested positive, a rate of 15%. That could mean that perhaps 10 of the escaped deer were CWD-infected.

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