Undiagnosed Deer
Deaths, Minnesota
DNR Explores 13 Deer Deaths

From Patricia Doyle, PhD
By Mike McFeely
Early indications are that the deaths of 13 deer in north east Otter Tail County don't appear to be linked to chronic wasting disease, a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) spokesman said.
The DNR received a report last week from 2 landowners southwest of Menahga that 12 deer had died in a concentrated area, said DNR regional wildlife supervisor John Breyen of Bemidji. Those deer had decomposed too badly to be tested for a cause of death, but one more deer died and the DNR removed its head and sent it to the University of Minnesota to be tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD).
The landowners who contacted the DNR about the deer said the animals had been emaciated before they died. But Breyen said a couple of factors suggested that the deer did not have CWD, an infectious disease that attacks the brains of deer and elk. The deer were anemic, which can be one sign of CWD, but they also exhibited other signs not consistent with the disease such as black, runny droppings, Breyen said. Also, all the deer were found in a small area, which would not necessarily be consistent with CWD, Breyen said.
Because the deer all died in such a limited area, Breyen theorized they could have eaten some tainted food such as moldy corn. "It was a very, very isolated area," Breyen said. "That leads us to believe it was something they got into."
The DNR will collect more deer from the area for testing, Breyen said. DNR personnel from Detroit Lakes and Park Rapids were in the area Tuesday night hoping to shoot some animals, and several landowners have been authorized to do the same. Breyen said the DNR would like to collect 5 deer, but 2 or 3 would be sufficient.
The entire carcasses of those deer will be sent to the University of Minnesota for necropsies. CWD has been at the forefront of DNR testing efforts for the past couple of years, ever since the disease was found in a single captive elk on a farm near Aitkin. The disease has never been found in the state's wild deer population.
In the fall of 2003, the DNR tested nearly 10 000 deer harvested by hunters. No positive tests were found. The test sample included 328 deer taken from hunting Zone 411, which is adjacent to the area in Otter Tail County in which the 13 dead deer were found.
Typical signs of CWD include drooping head or ears, poor body condition, tremors, stumbling, increased salivation, difficulty swallowing or excessive thirst or urination, according to the DNR website.
This many deer in an apparently small areas does not seem to be CWD, and it seems it is too early in the season for epizootic hemorrhagic disease. - Mod.TG....mpp/tg/pg/sh
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD Please visit my "Emerging Diseases" message board at: Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa Go with God and in Good Health



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