ST. PAUL (AP) -- The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has collected about 3,500 of the more than 5,000 samples needed for a study of chronic wasting disease infestation.
The collection began Saturday, the first day of the firearms deer season.
Six of the 16 antlerless permit areas in the state reached their goal of 360 deer samples. The other 10 areas will continue to collect samples until they reach their goals.
"We had good success collecting samples in the northern permit areas," said Mike DonCarlos, research manager at the DNR. "It appears that hunter success was lower in the south and we didn't get as many samples there."
Results of deer collected from hunters won't be available until December. Hunters who participate in the testing program will be notified by mail about the samples they submitted, said Dennis Stauffer, DNR communications director.
Though no deer in Minnesota is known to have been infected with CWD, concerns were raised in August when a captive elk in Aitkin County was found to have the disease and died.
Still, experts say the chances of a Minnesotan dying from eating meat from a CWD-infected deer are small.
Hunters who aren't part of the random study but who want their deer tested for CWD can visit one of more than 150 veterinarians across the state who are collecting brain stem samples for testing.
The cost of testing, which ranges from $55 to $85 per deer, may have deterred some hunters, said Dr. Nathan Mannix, a veterinarian with Cascade Animal Medical Center in Rochester.
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