Ten days away from Minnesota’s deer hunting firearms season, fears of chronic wasting disease have left wildlife officials struggling to figure out what to do with potentially tens of thousands of deer carcasses.

“We are scrambling to deal with this situation,” Bryan Lueth, wildlife habitat manager for the state Department of Natural Resources, told lawmakers Tuesday.

On Monday, Waste Management told the DNR it was pulling out of a state contract to collect and haul Dumpsters full of deer carcasses from two areas in the state where the disease has been found in wild deer.

That throws a last-minute wrench into the DNR’s plan to contain the contagious disease, which is still rare in Minnesota’s deer population. It also threatens to create a domino effect of fear in the public and private sector and could upend a core tradition for hundreds of thousands of Minnesota families. It also has landfill operators, wastewater treatment plants, and small meat processors rethinking their roles in the processing and waste stream of whitetail deer.

The statewide deer firearms season — the largest hunting event in Minnesota, involving as many half a million hunters killing perhaps 200,000 deer — starts Nov. 9.


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