Fears of bovine tuberculosis have prompted the Department of Natural Resources to announce a special deer hunt in northwestern Minnesota to thin the herd there.
The 16-day hunt will run from Dec. 29-Jan. 13 in deer Permit Area 101, which is near Skime.
The hunt was announced Tuesday after three more deer killed during the fall hunt tested positive for the disease. That brings the total number of wild deer found with the disease to 13 since testing started in 2005.
Since then, eight infected cattle herds in Roseau and Beltrami counties have been destroyed.
"To my knowledge, we've never reopened the deer season for this reason," said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game supervisor.
"The goal is to dramatically lower deer densities in these areas both to protect the wild deer herd and to reduce possible risk to cattle herds," Cornicelli said.
Despite fears of the disease, the deer harvested during the special hunting season should be edible, he said. Few deer will be infected, and even infected animals would be safe to eat once they are cooked to 170 degrees.
DNR officials will staff registration stations in the area on the weekends to examine deer for bovine TB.
Hunters can use any 2007 license or permit from any zone. They can also buy additional disease management permits for $2.50, or deer also can be tagged with any remaining unused tags from the 2007 season.
About 1,400 deer have been killed so far this fall in the 450-square-mile area.