November brings the start of two major seasons for Minnesotans. While winter is now here to stay for several months, with the ice, snow and colder weather, it’s also the start of another season — deer hunting. Over Veterans Day weekend, Gov. Tim Walz kicked it off with the Governor’s Deer Opener in Fergus Falls, and over the next few weeks over half a million Minnesotans will get out there and take aim.

Hunting is one of the biggest ways Minnesotans take part in outdoor recreation and is a vital industry for our entire state. From first timers to seasoned sportsmen and women, hunting is a core tradition for thousands of people, and not only an economic driver for our state but an important opportunity for loved ones to create lasting memories.

That’s why it’s essential that we tackle a critical challenge facing Minnesota. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a major concern for Minnesota’s deer hunters and sporting community and has been found in deer in several parts of the state. While it is relatively rare, its presence threatens to grow which would devastate the deer population in our state and affect the lives of thousands of hunters.

Chronic wasting disease in Minnesota’s deer is a crisis that deserves urgent state action and attention. As a member of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee, I have been directly involved with my colleagues in taking action that will prevent its spread and have been working hand in hand with the Department of Natural Resources to craft a state response.

With CWD, detection is key to identifying where vulnerable deer populations are and where to focus our resources and attention. There are three areas of the state where most CWD-infected deer have been found; in the southeastern corner of the state, the west-central area just west of the metro, and the north-central Brainerd area. For people hunting in those identified areas, they should keep an eye out for deer exhibiting symptoms of the disease and need to follow the requirements for testing deer for CWD.

One of the keys to preventing the spread of CWD is the proper disposal of dead deer. I carried legislation this year to create an “adopt a dumpster” for disposal of deer carcasses in areas where CWD has been detected. It also required that guidelines be adopted for handling deer in the field and transporting and disposing of deer carcasses. I was proud to have the support of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association in getting this legislation enacted.

It’s essential that we do everything we can to stop CWD from becoming rampant. There’s much more information about testing sites, the latest news on where deer with CWD have been found, and updates about the state’s response available here: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/cwd/index.html.

I encourage my constituents to reach out to me or to speak to me on any issue. Don't hesitate to call my office at 651-297-8060 with any questions or concerns.