ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota conservation officials have expanded a ban on feeding deer after discovering multiple captive deer infected with chronic wasting disease.
The state Department of Natural Resources’ ban is for more than 10 central and north-central Minnesota counties, Minnesota Public Radio reported . It will be in effect until February 2019.
“Feeding bans in central and north-central Minnesota are precautionary,” said Lou Cornicelli, the department’s wildlife research manager. “Wild deer in these areas are not known to have CWD. These feeding bans are a proactive step to keep CWD at bay.”
Not feeding deer will help prevent the spread of the disease, Cornicelli said. Feed includes corn, grain, salt, mineral blocks, fruit, vegetables, nuts, hay and other foods that may attract deer.
“Although well-intentioned, feeding wildlife often does more harm than good,” he said.
The department said there’s a similar ban for five southeastern Minnesota counties, which will be in effect until June 2018.
Residents are still allowed to feed birds or small mammals, but they should make sure to place food at least six feet above the ground in order to prevent deer from accessing it, the department said.
The disease is a fatal brain illness that affects deer, elk and moose. It’s not known to impact human health.
The department said it will conduct testing in the affected counties to determine if the disease has spread from captive deer to wild deer. Samples will be taken from 5,400 deer near Merrifield in Crow Wing County and Litchfield in Meeker County.
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org