When one hunter killed a deer in Minnesota, he got a surprise he never expected.
The 10-point buck, killed near Lanesboro, Minnesota, in 2017, sported ear tags upon which someone had written “Don’t Miss,” according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
The words “Don’t” on one ear tag and “Miss” on the other one were hand-written. The tags had no other identifying marks.
Lou Cornicelli, a wildlife research manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said at the time his office was investigating how the buck came to be tagged.
The deer was at least 3 years old and might have been older.
It had been seen on trail cameras for more than a year prior to the time a hunter took it.
The red tags the animal sported are proof that someone was close to the deer, but in Minnesota it is illegal to capture a wild deer. Captive deer are also not allowed to be released.
Cornicelli said investigators didn’t know where the deer came from and asked the public “for any information that may aid in finding the animal’s owner.”
The state has been investigating the presence of chronic wasting disease in its deer herds.
“An individual intentionally releasing deer is a potential source of the infection,” Cornicelli said.
— Star Tribune Sports (@StribSports) November 29, 2017
Minnesota’s CWD program is facing hard times this fall because hunters are not participating, according to an official with the state Department of Natural Resources.
Due to COVID-19, the state stopped mandatory testing to avoid gatherings at testing spots, according to a Star-Tribune report last month.
That has led hunters to skip testing altogether.
In 2019, mandatory testing resulted in a compliance rate of 93 percent.
“We are barely hitting 30 percent,’’ said Michelle Carstensen, wildlife research team leader at the DNR. “I’m concerned from what I’ve seen so far that it might not be enough information to find out what’s going on with the disease.’’
What the state does not know hurts its efforts to adapt policies to ever-changing reality for the deer population.
“It reduces our ability to get our arms around this thing,’’ Carstensen said.
Although compliance in archery season was spotty, officials said they were hopeful for a better response as firearms season began.
Barbara Keller, the big game program leader for the DNR, said the state sent postcards to hunters to remind them of the importance of compliance.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.