The deer farm in Crow Wing County that has harbored chronic wasting disease since 2016 is out of business under an agreement that paid the owner to have his entire herd euthanized.
The Minnesota Board of Animal Health announced the “depopulation’’ late Wednesday without disclosing how much the farmer was paid or how many deer were killed to manage the threat of the disease spreading to the region’s wild deer.
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) had never been detected in a wild deer in the central or northern parts of Minnesota until the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced in February that an emaciated female deer found dead “very close’’ to the Merrifield deer farm tested positive.
The discovery prompted an emergency hunting effort to thin the local herd in hopes of reducing deer-to-deer transmission. Since 2016, when the DNR was first informed of the farm’s disease problem, the state has paid for the testing of more than 8,600 deer harvested by hunters in a CWD management zone around the farm.
The Board of Animal Health, which regulates deer farms, said all carcasses from the farm will be tested for the disease. The results will be announced within weeks, the board said.
“We’re glad they have been depopulated and we’re anxiously awaiting the results,’’ said DNR Wildlife Research Manager Lou Cornicelli.
He said the DNR has been wanting the fenced-in deer farm to be shut down for more than two years. Known as Trophy Woods Ranch, it was a pay-to-hunt shooting pen and was known for offering monster mule deer bucks and whitetail bucks. At least seven deer at the farm were confirmed as being infected with CWD since 2016. Cornicelli said he believes the herd was close to 100 strong.
Michael Crusan, a spokesman for the Board of Animal Health, said the depopulation payment won’t be disclosed. It was negotiated and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“As of this depopulation, all CWD-positive deer farms in the state are empty,’’ the Board of Animal Health said.
Because the prions that cause the disease remain in the soil, the board and USDA — with input from the DNR — will implement a management plan for the site.