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Mule deer shot by DNR near Thief River Falls didn't have chronic wasting disease; additional test results pending

A mule deer buck shot by a DNR conservation officer Jan. 17 north of Thief River Falls after acting disoriented and posing a threat to motorists has tested negative for chronic wasting disease. Further results from other tests are pending. (Photo/ Doug Franke, Minnesota DNR)

A wayward mule deer buck that was shot last month along U.S. Highway 59 north of Thief River Falls after authorities determined it was acting strangely has tested negative for chronic wasting disease.

That was expected, said Doug Franke, area wildlife supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Thief River Falls.

In addition to lymph node samples that were tested for CWD, the brain was removed and sent to the University of Minnesota veterinary lab to be tested for brain worm or other diseases, Franke said Wednesday.

Unlike whitetails, mule deer are susceptible to the parasite-caused condition, same as elk and moose.

“We hope to hear back about the brain within a week,” he said.

DNR conservation officer Tony Elwell, who is stationed in Thief River Falls, shot the mule deer Thursday, Jan. 17, after DNR staff determined it was a liability to motorists. Mule deer aren’t common in northwest Minnesota, and while its origin is unknown, the 1½-year-old buck may have wandered into the area from western North Dakota, which has the closest resident population of mule deer.

The buck, which had a 2x3 rack, had been in the area since sometime last fall and appeared healthy other than its disoriented behavior.

The deer seemed “completely unaware of what was going on,” Franke said in a Jan. 25 Herald story. “It was like a dementia-type brain dysfunction of some sort going on.”

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is a reporter and editor of the Herald's Sunday Northland Outdoors pages. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998.  A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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