So far so good, when it comes to the recent testing for chronic wasting disease among elk and deer in Aitkin County. Since Minnesota's first case of the disease was discovered in a farm-raised elk in Aitkin County all the tests have come up negative. That indicates the debilitating disease that affects wildlife has not spread very far in Minnesota.
That doesn't mean the threat against Minnesota's deer and elk population can be dismissed, however. The DNR will continue with its plan to test about 5,000 dead deer once the gun hunting season begins on Nov. 9.
Smart deer hunters will take the proper precautions when dressing their deer this fall -- avoiding meat from animals that appear sick, not using deer parts such as the brain, spinal cord, eyes and spleen.
Chronic wasting disease has existed in western states for years but the heavy concentration of deer in Wisconsin and Minnesota prompts wildlife officials in the Midwest to fear the disease could spread much more rapidly here.
It's too soon to tell how the discovery of chronic wasting disease in Minnesota will affect the state's hunting season -- a tourism boon calculated to generate about $250 million each year.
DNR officials must keep on top of this problem and that means lawmakers will have to provide the necessary funding. To ignore this crisis is to put the state's entire deer herd at risk.
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