Merrifield, MN (KROC AM News) - A new concern for Minnesota deer hunters - a CWD wild deer has been found near Brainerd, more than 200 miles away from all the others that have been confirmed in the state.

The Department of Natural Resources says the adult doe was found dead in Merrifield Jan. 23. Test results confirmed the deer positive for CWD on Feb. 14. The DNR began surveillance around a CWD-positive captive cervid facility near Merrifield in 2017.

The agency says this “marks the first time in Minnesota the fatal neurological disease has been found in a wild deer outside of the southeastern part of the state.” Most of the earlier cases of wild deer infected with chronic wasting disease were in Fillmore County, with additional discoveries in Houston and Winona counties in the past two months.

In an effort to control the spread of CWD, the DNR has also intensified its management efforts, adding several special hunts in late 2018 and early 2019. During recent special hunts in permit area 346, a hunter harvested a wild deer in Winona County that tested positive for CWD. It was shot a few miles from a Winona County deer farm that tested positive for CWD in 2017. It was also near where a wild CWD-positive deer was found in Houston County this fall.

Within the disease management zone in deer permit area 603, targeted culling through the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Wildlife Services has removed 154 deer, as of Feb. 12. Of them, four were CWD-positive and results are pending for 35 others.

As a result of these discoveries, the DNR is planning additional disease response actions, and Gov. Tim Walz is proposing new funding of $4.57 million over the next two fiscal years, and $1.1 million annually thereafter to combat the disease, including surveillance and response, enforcement, and outreach to landowners.

“We take every discovery of CWD very seriously,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “It is our hope that we discovered the Crow Wing County infection early and can respond quickly with actions to eliminate the disease in this area. With this critical new funding, we will continue to work with private landowners, hunters and others to achieve our goal of maintaining a healthy deer herd and Minnesota’s treasured deer hunting experience.”