More CWD linked to Beltrami County deer farm and an expanded investigation after illegal dumping of infected deer carcasses

An entire herd of domesticated deer was depopulated and additional CWD-positive deer were found in a Beltrami County farm, and it appears the farmer illegally disposed of infected carcasses on nearby tax-forfeited land.

During an inspection of the premises, a animal health board agent discovered several adult deer and fawn carcasses were moved onto the county-managed parcel.

CWD-causing prions were detected in the site.

Work is underway to build a fence to prevent wild deer any further access to this site.

This herd, first reported in April, was initially quarantined last October after the farmer received animals from a Winona County source herd.

Of the 12 additional CWD-positive animals most recently identified, nine were in this Beltrami County farm but three others were moved to farms in other counties.

A diagram showing the spread of CWD in this case. Courtesy of the State Board of Animal Health.

CWD is a neurological disease of the deer and elk family caused by prions, and is always fatal.

The disease can be spread by both direct and indirect contact with infected Cervidae.

Consuming meat from CWD-infected animals is not advised.

The DNR issued a release on these latest findings, and says that Minnesota must take a strong, proactive stance to achieve three goals:

  • address the site of the deer remains in Beltrami County;
  • reduce additional risk from Beltrami County through herd quarantine and thorough trace-outs to other herds;
  • move to a more proactive and preventative approach to addressing systemic gaps in the farmed deer system.

Recognizing the significance of this development, DNR is coordinating with partners at the federal, state, and local level to ensure an assertive and nimble response. This includes working with:

  • Beltrami County to coordinate containment of the contaminated site on county-managed land where the deer remains were discovered;
  • Center for Prion Research and Outreach at the University of Minnesota to test the deer remains at the site and nearby soil samples for presence of CWD prions;
  • BAH on its management of the nearby CWD contaminated deer farm and trace-outs to other farms;
  • U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on prion-contaminated site remediation; and
  • Leech Lake, Red Lake and White Earth bands of Ojibwe on information exchange and plans for sampling hunter-harvested deer and data collection this fall.

Beltrami County Administrator Tom Barry reported this morning that the DNR is planning a presentation to the Board of Commissioners during their next work session on June 1.


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers events and issues in north-central Minnesota, which include local government, crime, courts, education, environment, and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University and received her degree in 2018. Larissa, native to the great state of New York, grew up in Bemidji and enjoys spending her spare time with her son Logan, daughter Brigid, and pets Vincent and Piper. She also loves reading, Star Trek, and gardening... badly.


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