Published since 1946
Minnesota DNR Regains Authority to Manage Captive White-Tailed Deer Facilities
The Minnesota legislative process this year produced significant changes to the management of captive Cervidae facilities. In addition to transference of management authority from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (MBAH) to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), there were important changes to fencing requirements, prohibition of new registration of captive white-tailed deer (WTD) facilities, movement of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)-infected captive WTD, and importation of live captive Cervids, detailed below. It should be noted that MBAH retained authority over captive cervid species other than WTD.
According to the MDNR website (accessed July 26, 2023), there are 125 registered captive WTD facilities in Minnesota with a total of 3,325 deer. Changes in state law (Chapter 60--H.F.No. 2310 Article 7) enacted in 2023 transferred management authority of captive WTD from MBAH to MDNR. MDNR had regulatory authority over captive WTD producers until 2005, when the Legislature transferred that authority to MBAH. In 2021, the Legislature granted co-authority to MDNR and MBAH.
Sec. 1. Minnesota Statutes 2022, section 35.155, was amended to allow licensed hunters to kill escaped captive Cervidae. If escaped for more than 72 hours, the hunter may possess the animal. Hunters must notify MDNR within 24 hours of harvest and escaped animals must be tested for CWD. The possessor of the animal is responsible for proper disposal of animals that test positive for CWD. The owner is liable for any additional costs associated with escaped captive Cervidae that are infected with CWD. The effective date is September 1, 2023.
Sec. 2. Minnesota Statutes 2022, section 35.155, was amended to prevent physical contact between captive Cervidae and free-ranging Cervidae. The MBAH or commissioner of natural resources may determine whether fencing is adequate and may compel corrective action. If a fence deficiency allows entry or exit by captive or wild Cervidae, the owner must immediately repair the deficiency. All other deficiencies must be repaired within a reasonable time, as determined by the MBAH, not to exceed 14 days. The effective date is September 1, 2024.
Sec. 3. Minnesota Statutes 2022, section 35.155, was amended to prevent the MBAH from allowing any new registrations for possessing captive live WTD. Existing valid registrations may be sold or transferred to an immediate family member once only. This section was effective the day following final enactment.
Sec. 4. Minnesota Statutes 2022, section 35.155, was amended to prevent movement of captive WTD from a herd that tests positive for CWD from any premises to another location. Subdivision 11 (2) of this section requires the owner to depopulate the premises of Cervidae after the federal indemnification process has been completed or, if an indemnification application is not submitted, within 30 days; This section was also amended to require facility fences to be maintained for 10 years following detection of CWD, be posted with biohazard signs, not raise captive cervids on the premises for 10 years and disclose in writing the CWD status to any buyers of the premises. Any animal over 6 months of age from a farmed cervid herd that dies or is slaughtered must be tested for CWD. The effective date is July 1, 2023.
Sec. 5. Minnesota Statutes 2022, section 35.155, was created to add language about civil liability resulting by the owner’s sale or unlawful disposal of captive Cervidae if the herd owner knew or reasonably should have known that the Cervidae were infected with or exposed to CWD. The effective date is July 1, 2023.
Sec. 6. Minnesota Statutes 2022, section 35.155, was amended to prevent importation of live Cervids from a state or province where CWD has been detected in captive or wild cervid populations in the last 5 years unless the animal has been tested with a validated live animal test. Live Cervidae or Cervidae semen must originate from a herd that has been subject to a state-, federal-, or provincial-approved CWD herd certification program and that has reached a status equivalent to the highest certification. This subdivision does not apply to the interstate transfer of animals between two facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The effective date is July 1, 2023.
Sec. 7. Minnesota Statutes 2022, section 35.155, was amended to allow MDNR to contract with the MBAH and must develop an inter-agency agreement defining roles and responsibilities. The effective date is July 1, 2023.
Sec. 8. Minnesota Statutes 2022, section 35.156, was amended to require an annual report to the legislature concerning receipt and expenditure of any federal funds for purposes of CWD. The effective date is July 1, 2023.
Sec. 9. Minnesota Statutes 2022, section 35.156, was amended to require that the MBAH and the commissioner of natural resources must consult the Minnesota Center for Prion Research and Outreach at the University of Minnesota and incorporate peer-reviewed scientific information when administering and enforcing section 35.155 and associated rules pertaining to CWD and captive Cervidae. The effective date is July 1, 2023.
Sec. 10. Minnesota Statutes 2022, section 35.156, was amended by adding a subdivision to read: “The Board of Animal Health must promptly notify affected local units of government and Tribal governments when an animal in a captive Cervidae herd tests positive for CWD.” The effective date is July 1, 2023.
Sec. 11. Minnesota Statutes 2022, section 35.156, was amended to require the MBAH to have each captive white-tailed deer possessed by a person registered under section 35.155 be tested for CWD using a noninvasive live-animal test, which has been determined by the USDA capable of accurately detecting CWD, offered by a public or private diagnostic laboratory. A validated live-animal test is required when moving captive WTD six months old and over from any premises within the state within 12 weeks of movement. The MBAH may institute additional live-animal CWD testing protocols. Live-animal testing results must be submitted to both the commissioner of natural resources and the MBAH in the form required by both agencies. The effective date is July 1, 2023.
Sec. 12. Minnesota Statutes 2022, section 35.156, transferred some duties concerning captive WTD:
(a) responsibility for administering and enforcing the statutes and rules listed in clauses (1) and (2) below for captive WTD are, except as provided in paragraph (c) below, transferred pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, section 15.039, from the MBAH to the commissioner of natural resources: (1) Minnesota Statutes, sections 35.153 to 35.156; and (2) Minnesota Rules, parts 1721.0370 to 1721.0420.
(b) The Board of Animal Health retains responsibility for administering and enforcing the statutes and rules listed in paragraph (a), clauses (1) and (2), for all other captive Cervidae.
(c) Not withstanding Minnesota Statutes, section 15.039, subdivision 7, the transfer of personnel will not take place.
The effective date is July 1, 2023.