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Minnesota to offer late-season deer hunting opportunities in CWD management units

Hunting dates in the CWD management units, including permit areas 261 and 262 along the Red River, are Friday, Dec. 17, through Sunday, Dec. 19, and Friday, Dec. 31, through Sunday, Jan. 2, the DNR said. Hunters can participate in both hunts using any unfilled archery, firearms, muzzleloader or landowner deer hunting license. Hunters who filled their tags can purchase disease management permits for $2.50.

CWD positive healthy buck mndnr.jpg
This Minnesota whitetail buck, which appeared perfectly healthy to the eye, later tested positive for chronic wasting disease. This isn't the deer taken southwest of Climax, Minnesota, that tested positive CWD in October 2021, even though the disease had never been found or suspected in the area. Contributed / Minnesota DNR

ST. PAUL -- Hunters in two Minnesota deer permit areas along the North Dakota border will have additional deer hunting opportunities this month as part of efforts to control the spread of chronic wasting disease, the Department of Natural Resources said this week.

Additional harvest opportunities will be available in deer permit areas 261 and 262 along the Red River, which the DNR designated as disease management units after a whitetail buck shot southwest of Climax, Minnesota, during the October youth deer season tested positive for CWD. Fatal to deer, elk and moose, CWD had never been found along the Red River, but results from voluntary testing of the whitetail buck came back positive for CWD.

The DNR also will offer expanded hunting opportunities in deer permit areas 343, 605, 643, 645, 646, 647, 648, 649 and 655 in southeast Minnesota and the southeast Twin Cities metro area.

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Hunting dates are Friday, Dec. 17, through Sunday, Dec. 19, and Friday, Dec. 31, through Sunday, Jan. 2, the DNR said. Hunters can participate in both hunts using any unfilled archery, firearms, muzzleloader or landowner deer hunting license. Unfilled bonus permits and early antlerless permits also may be used. The hunting method used must match the hunter’s deer license.
Hunters who have filled their license may purchase disease management permits for $2.50 to participate.

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There are no restrictions on the number of deer – antlerless or antlered – that a hunter may take during the December CWD management hunts. Unlike other hunts, disease management permits may be used to tag both antlered and antlerless deer. Bonus permits and early antlerless tags can only be used to tag antlerless deer.

Sampling mandatory

CWD sampling is mandatory for both hunts, and harvested deer must be taken to a staffed or self-service sampling station. Staffed sampling stations will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the hunts. Stations also will be open from 9 a.m. to noon on the Monday following each hunt. A complete list of station locations and hours is available on the DNR website .

Carcass movement restrictions apply during these hunts in all areas except the northwest hunts along the Minnesota-North Dakota border in permit areas 261 and 262, the DNR said. Hunters there are encouraged to not move whole carcasses from either area. Complete details on carcass movement restrictions and how to comply is available on the DNR website .

Hunters must obtain permission to hunt on private land but may hunt wildlife management areas and other public lands that are normally open to deer hunting within the designated deer permit areas.

Some public lands where deer hunting is not normally allowed will also be open to hunting during the CWD management hunts. Permits to hunt are required in some of these areas to limit the number of hunters. These permits will be available from any DNR license vendor on a first-come, first-served basis starting at noon on Friday, Dec. 3.

Permits are available for both weekends but are only valid for the weekend specified. Hunters may only obtain one permit, so they must choose which weekend they want to participate. The additional public lands open to hunting, none of which are located in permit areas 261 or 262, are as follows:

  • Rushford Sand Barrens Scientific and Natural Area; no permit required.

  • Savage Den SNA; no permit required; archery only.

  • Cannon River Turtle Reserve SNA; no permit required; only portions in permit area 605 are open.

  • Forestville Mystery Cave State Park; permit required.

  • Pin Oak Prairie SNA; permit required.

  • Great River Bluffs State Park and Kings and Queens SNA; permit required.

  • Beaver Creek Valley State Park; permit required.

  • Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area; no permit required; archery only in the Carver Rapids unit.

The DNR offered last-minute sampling in permit areas 261 and 262 after test results from the buck shot during the October youth deer season came back positive just days before the regular firearms deer season. Hunters in permit area 261 submitted 54 samples during the firearms season, and hunters in 262 submitted only 11 samples. So far, CWD has only been confirmed in the youth season buck, but results are pending from 40 of the 65 deer that were sampled in the two permit areas, DNR statistics show. Test results from 24 deer have come back negative for CWD.

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