A group of five state representatives are urging Minnesotans to support bills to address chronic wasting disease, and we applaud their effort.

They’re prompted by the discovery in January of CWD in a wild deer in Crow Wing County, just a couple thousand feet from the fence of a deer farm with known CWD cases. This was the first confirmed case in a wild deer outside of southeastern Minnesota; a deer farm in Aitkin County tested with CWD-positive deer.

“How long before wild deer are infected in Aitkin? Then Carlton? Then the rest of the northland?” the legislators ask in the letter.

“The time to act is now. Stand with us to work on long-term solutions to protect our deer populations, our hunting revenue streams, our traditions, our families, and our way of life. Call your legislators and tell them that you support our bills to address CWD, and they should too,” Reps. Rob Ecklund, Mike Sundin, John Persell, Julie Sandstede and Dave Lislegard said in a letter issued Monday.

We agree, and while we know deer hunting and management can get political, we urge action now, and that first step should be considering a ban on recreational deer feeding, in most instances.

Just this month, the International Falls City Council revisited deer hunting within the city to address what some residents feel is an abundance of deer in certain places. As Councilor Joe Krause pointed out, deer congregate where food is provided, especially in winters that bring deep snow. Those congregating deer can pose traffic concerns, although Police Chief Rich Mastin said he’s not seen an increase in deer-vehicle crashes as of late.

Ending feeding would eliminate groups of wild deer, that unnaturally come together to eat, creating mouth-to-mouth contact among wild deer.

Meanwhile, we urge these lawmakers to do what’s right for the health of deer and humans, and that means more research and providing the Department of Transportation with the tools staff need to solve the problem. After considering feeding bans, we agree that eliminating contact between captive and wild deer is crucial.

Lawmakers are right when they say CWD is a crisis, so action must be taken sooner than later.

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