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St. Louis County targets deer farms

Dan Gunderson

MPR News

The St. Louis County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on cervid farms. Those are farms that raise primarily deer and elk in captivity.

There are 257 cervid farms in Minnesota and 172 that raise captive white-tailed deer, according to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. Those farms have played a role in the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Minnesota, including a case in Beltrami County earlier this year that marked the northernmost spread of the disease in the state.

That caught the attention of St. Louis County Commissioner Patrick Boyle.

“Enough is enough, and I hope this [resolution] leads to the domino effect that we’re looking at,” he said. “I just really want to kindle that fire and start the movement for, I hope, a success next year in legislation.”

For Boyle, success would include a statewide moratorium on new cervid farms and a permanent ban on movement of animals.

The resolution approved by the commission calls for those actions by the state but also sets the stage for county action.

“This moratorium does have teeth in it at a county level,” said Boyle. “We would put a freeze on any new cervid farm that may come up in the future.”

The county will hold a hearing later this month to consider a revised zoning ordinance placing a moratorium on any new captive cervid farms in St. Louis County.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health licenses and regulates the farms, and a recently passed state law also gives the Department of Natural Resources regulatory authority.

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