ST. PAUL, MN — Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a neurological disease afflicting deer that causes the animals’ brains to deteriorate until they experience emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions, and ultimately death. This hunting season, hunters and wildlife researchers are using a new online application developed by state science and technology experts at Minnesota IT Services (MNIT) and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to see whether or not the deer they harvested tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease.
“IT makes the biggest impact to citizens when it’s developed in partnership with other government agencies and offices,” said MNIT Commissioner Johanna Clyborne. “Working with the DNR, MNIT was able to help ease the process for recording deer samples for hunters as the state continues to monitor Chronic Wasting Disease in its wild deer populations.”
This fall, the DNR required that hunters harvesting in mandatory testing areas (such as Deer Permit Area 603, otherwise known as the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone, in southern Minnesota) bring their deer to designated CWD sampling stations. Hunters provide lymph node samples of their harvested deer and detail the exact location where the deer is harvested, and Wildlife Health Program staff at the DNR send their samples to a laboratory for analysis.
As the DNR’s Wildlife Health Program researchers receive new data from the CWD testing laboratory, they are able to upload it directly to the new online application developed by MNIT. The application then automatically refreshes and displays the testing results online at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck — directly informing hunters with the most current information about CWD testing results.
The application allows Minnesota hunters who have provided CWD samples to simply enter their MN DNR number into the site to check the results of their test.
“The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association and its nearly 20,000 members throughout Minnesota support aggressive actions to protect Minnesota’s wild deer from Chronic Wasting Disease,” said Craig Engwall. “The new application launched by MNIT has been a great new tool to help hunters check on their deer and stay safe.”
The new online application also streamlines and increases government transparency to the process that hunters can use to track Chronic Wasting Disease. Since September, the online, public-facing application has received 11,216 unique views to the site, and it has processed 9,032 sample lookups. The application currently assists state wildlife experts in monitoring the 5,532 recorded Chronic Wasting Disease testing samples for the season.
“Previously, only hunters within the CWD Management Zone could look up their results on the DNR website, and we created summary tables that were uploaded to the CWD webpage periodically. This new app allows us to complete both of these steps at the same time,” said Wildlife Health Program researcher Kelsie LaSharr.
According to the sampling tables on the application, 10 deer harvested from hunters in the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone have tested positive for the Chronic Wasting Disease since July 2018, with another three harvested outside the disease management zone.
To read more about Chronic Wasting Disease, search testing results, learn about late-season hunts, and follow the state’s efforts to manage the disease, visit the DNR’s Chronic Wasting Disease website at mndnr.gov/cwd.