Blood, sweat and 'deers'

BY KAHLA STATEMA | The Statesman  

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources predicted a 50 percent increase in Duluth and the surrounding areas of deer populations this hunting season.

Every November, hunters gear up and head out to the woods where they perch up in their deer stands and wait for the perfect shot. However, this doesn’t take care of the inner-city deer population.

“The whole idea is that there’s too many deer in Duluth,” Lyle Shannon, a biology instructor at UMD, said.

That’s where the Arrowhead Bowhunter’s Alliance (ABA) comes in. The ABA began in 2004 and provides a “safe, efficient and cost-effective deer removal alternative for urban deer management.”

“In the bowhunters alliance, there’s a whole bunch of rules about things that you can and cannot do. And one of the things you can’t do is take the guts out wherever you shot the deer and leave them there,” Shannon said.

For inner-city bowhunters, they have to bring the entire deer home before gutting it and then bring the guts somewhere else, such as the ABA.

The ABA has partnered with the UMD Biology Department and has donated unpreserved deer hearts for UMD students to work on.

“We’ve probably been doing this for about five years now with the bowhunter’s association,” Shannon said.

In return for the donations, the biology department is giving away athletic tickets and UMD Store gift cards to the ABA.

“This whole thing started for us when one of my students was in the Arrowhead Bowhunter’s Alliance and he brought a couple hearts in when we were doing this heart lab and they were way better than preserved hearts,” Shannon said.

The preserved hearts that students usually use are difficult to work with because it’s hard to see the fine structures on the inside.

“The main thing that we usually dissect are the cats and they’re all preserved already,” Emma Licht, one of the students in Shannon’s human anatomy class, said. “So with the unpreserved deer heart, it makes it more realistic for us.”

Another class is using tissues from the heart for a DNA analysis to look for any deer that might be susceptible to chronic wasting disease.

Chronic wasting disease’s effects can be spread to humans where it could get into the brain and eat it away.

“Fortunately enough, we don’t really get it around here. They do have it in Wisconsin though,” Shannon said.

This year, the ABA is also donating livers to the biology department.

The livers will be used in a grad student’s research project where he will find the percentage of liver flukes that live in deer livers.

“Liver flukes are parasitic worms kind of like a giant leech,” Shannon said. “But they’re parasites in the liver of deer.” This year, the ABA donated nearly 75 deer hearts and 75 deer livers to UMD. The biology department and the ABA plan to continue their partnership again next year.


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