Winter 2010

The Newsletter of the Minnesota GIS/LIS Consortium

Table of Contents

MN GIS/LIS Consortium

From the Chair
Conference Wrap-up 
Scholarship Winners
Scholarship Drawing
Polaris Awards
Lifetime Award

MnGeo Update
Stimulus Funding Map
Chronic Wasting Monitoring

Elevation Info

Governor's Council
Commendation to Goodhue Co.

Base Map Services
Socioeconomic Data

LiDAR Use in Winona Co.
Rice Co. Pictometry
Prairie Island Natural Resources
Fillmore Co. GIS
Prior Lake / Scott Co. Collaboration

Historic SPOT Online

K-12 Education
GeoMentor Project

Will Craig: URISA Hall of Fame



DNR Uses GIS to Monitor Deer for Chronic Wasting Disease
By Steve Benson, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
The Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Section, has been monitoring Minnesota’s White-tailed deer herd for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) since a few infected captive deer and elk were discovered in 2002. This infectious disease is potentially significant for the overall health of Minnesota’s deer herd, and to Minnesota’s hunting economy: $450 million is spent annually by deer hunters in this state. Note the expansion of this disease in North America as indicated on the maps from 2003 and 2009.
A statewide sampling effort began in 2002, and continues today. The goal is to sample so intensively that even a 1% infection rate would be detected in the wild deer herd. GIS has been used to determine high risk areas, where to begin sampling, and where to focus ongoing efforts, and also to track the origin of all tissue samples taken from deer. All samples must be tracked with coordinates so that harvest sites can be mapped. The spatial density and distribution of samples is used to statistically validate the monitoring and to plan for future detection efforts. To date, over 33,000 samples have been tested (see “CWD Sampling Sites” map), most of them from hunter-harvested deer. No positive samples have been found in wild deer.
Over 600 farms with captive deer and elk were quickly mapped, and a density surface was created to identify the highest risk areas. Ten percent of the state was to be sampled in 2002, so specific deer permit areas were selected and a mapping project began. Hundreds of all-weather maps were created for deer registration stations.
The maps were designed so that any hunter could pinpoint the location where their deer was taken. Various grid systems were tested and rejected, and the Public Land Survey System was chosen primarily because most people have some familiarity with it. Grand Rapids Wildlife GIS staff have produced many hundreds of waterproof E-size maps since 2002, and have shipped them to registration stations. Registration stations were staffed by biologists and veterinary students, and Wildlife GIS staff were deployed as well, learning to wield scalpels and remove lymph nodes.
A recent detection of infected captive elk near Rochester refocused monitoring in Southeast Minnesota. A rapid aerial population survey was completed, using the GIS-based DNR Survey application. An operator went up in a helicopter and used a tablet PC to record deer locations and numbers, referring to a moving background map to keep an active visual location. Population density was calculated based on this and other surveys and was used to develop sampling targets for each deer permit area.
Over 2,685 samples were collected in the Southeast during the 2009 deer hunt, and these are currently being analyzed for CWD.
Results of the tests on tissue samples should be available late this winter
For more information contact Steve Benson at: or 218-327-4149.