Minnesota's deer disposal plan in jeopardy over CWD fears

Waste hauler will not handle possibly infected carcasses.

Posted: Oct 29, 2019 8:49 PM

BEMIDJI, Minn. (AP) — A plan to dispose of deer carcasses during Minnesota's upcoming rifle hunting season is unraveling over a waste hauler's fears of spreading chronic wasting disease.

The state placed special dumpsters in parts of central and southeastern Minnesota where the fatal deer brain disease has been found. The plan was to use the containers to safely dispose of potentially infected deer carcasses.

But Waste Management will not accept deer carcasses infected with chronic wasting or that have the potential of being infected. With Minnesota's rifle season about to start, officials worry hunters will toss bones onto the land where the disease can spread to other deer.

Officials of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources told state lawmakers Tuesday that Waste Management does not want to be held liable if the infectious material that causes chronic wasting spreads into the wild, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

"As of yesterday, they informed us that they would no longer be willing to handle this waste stream for us," DNR wildlife manager Bryan Lueth told a joint meeting of the Minnesota House and Senate Environment committees. "So we're pretty much left to scramble."

Waste Management spokeswoman Julie Ketchum told The Associated Press that the waste disposal company will handle any deer carcasses already in the dumpsters. But Waste Management is concerned about the prions, a misshaped protein that causes the disease in deer and elk and remains infectious in the environment for years, Ketchum said.

"We don't want to take on the risk to our business," Ketchum said. She also said the company's contract with the DNR only covers trash and recycling, and not transporting deer carcasses.

The DNR has had difficulty convincing landfills to take potentially infected deer, MPR reported.

Chronic wasting is still rare in Minnesota, but its potential spread is a worry for state conservation officials who oversee Minnesota's $1 billion annual deer-hunting industry.

The incurable disease was first confirmed in the state in a captive elk farm in Aitkin County in east-central Minnesota in 2002 and later detected among wild deer in a hot zone in southeastern Minnesota in 2016.

While there currently is no known crossover of the disease to humans, experts worry it could eventually jump species and find its way to humans.

Six deer dumpsters are scattered around the infection zone in southeastern Minnesota. Most of the deer dumpsters in the more recent Crow Wing County CWD zone are closed, according to the DNR website.

Deer shot in Crow Wing County can still be brought directly to the county landfill. But the deer dumpster program will be hobbled if the DNR can't find another hauler.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 60898

Reported Deaths: 1698
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin19271835
Ramsey7572265
Dakota4414106
Anoka3683114
Stearns289320
Washington212845
Nobles17646
Olmsted173223
Scott155919
Mower11012
Rice10328
Blue Earth9185
Wright8845
Carver8613
Clay78440
Sherburne7238
Kandiyohi6961
St. Louis55319
Todd4262
Lyon4253
Freeborn3591
Steele3482
Nicollet33713
Benton3203
Watonwan3080
Winona26116
Beltrami2400
Crow Wing23514
Le Sueur2201
Martin2075
Chisago2011
Goodhue1969
Otter Tail1943
McLeod1810
Cottonwood1780
Becker1571
Pipestone1579
Polk1534
Waseca1480
Itasca14712
Douglas1441
Carlton1370
Unassigned13441
Pine1290
Dodge1270
Isanti1250
Murray1221
Chippewa1041
Morrison921
Wabasha920
Brown892
Faribault870
Jackson860
Meeker852
Rock850
Sibley832
Koochiching773
Pennington751
Cass722
Mille Lacs713
Renville645
Fillmore630
Lincoln580
Grant553
Swift531
Roseau520
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Pope480
Houston420
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Norman400
Kanabec361
Redwood360
Wilkin343
Hubbard330
Marshall290
Mahnomen271
Wadena270
Red Lake240
Big Stone220
Lake210
Stevens180
Clearwater140
Traverse110
Lac qui Parle70
Cook50
Kittson30
Lake of the Woods20

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 48781

Reported Deaths: 929
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk10309207
Woodbury371952
Black Hawk312766
Linn237588
Johnson209619
Dallas188535
Buena Vista179412
Scott171814
Dubuque167631
Marshall144426
Pottawattamie132526
Story116614
Wapello90033
Muscatine84748
Webster8017
Crawford7283
Sioux6343
Cerro Gordo62517
Warren5641
Tama55129
Jasper47826
Wright4721
Plymouth4629
Clinton3973
Dickinson3814
Louisa37814
Washington29810
Boone2583
Hamilton2461
Franklin24110
Bremer2267
Clarke2013
Carroll1921
Emmet1924
Clay1901
Shelby1841
Hardin1810
Des Moines1792
Marion1730
Poweshiek1598
Benton1561
Jackson1561
Allamakee1554
Floyd1552
Mahaska13917
Cedar1331
Guthrie1325
Jones1302
Buchanan1271
Henry1254
Hancock1222
Butler1212
Madison1212
Pocahontas1152
Lee1143
Lyon1132
Delaware1121
Humboldt1111
Cherokee1081
Harrison1071
Clayton1043
Taylor980
Iowa971
Winneshiek971
Page940
Kossuth910
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Mills890
Sac850
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Fremont420
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