The chronic wasting disease has been confirmed in wild deer from Woodbury, Winneshiek, Fayette, and Decatur counties this year, bringing the total number of counties in Iowa where wild deer have tested positive to eight.
“We will schedule meetings in these areas in the next few months to discuss the chronic wasting disease, our response and the role hunters play in helping us to manage for this disease,” said Tyler Harms, a wildlife biologist with the Iowa DNR.
In the past, the DNR has set up a surveillance zone around where the positive deer were taken, then works with hunters to increase the number of samples collected within the zone to get a better idea of the extent to which the disease is on the ground.
“Early detection is key,” Harms said. “We want to increase the surveillance in close proximity to the positive deer to hopefully catch any other positives in the area. In these surveillance zones, we want to manage our deer herd toward the lower end of our population goal to help slow disease transmission.”
The Iowa DNR submitted nearly 7,000 deer tissue samples for testing from hunter-harvested or road-killed deer collected statewide in the 2019-2020 season that resulted in 43 positive wild deer.
“While the number of positives this year jumps out, it’s not out of the realm of what we would expect,” Harms said.
The Iowa DNR contacted all hunters with a positive deer and offered the opportunity to come to collect the deer meat, hide and other animal parts or were provided other options for carcass disposal. The Centers for Disease Control advises against consuming animals that have tested positive for the disease.
Hunters play an important role in preventing the spread of this disease by not using feed or salt-mineral licks that increase the concentration of deer, which can spread disease.
Hunters who harvest a deer in a county known to have the chronic wasting disease but who live in a county where the disease has not been found, should bone out their deer and either leave the carcass on the land where it was harvested or disposed of within that county. Contact the local landfill for requirements. Make absolutely sure not to transport and dump carcasses outside of the area where the deer was shot as this will spread the disease to new areas.
The Iowa DNR samples deer from every county with increased sample quotas set in areas where the disease has been confirmed or where it has been confirmed across the border in neighboring states.
The Iowa DNR has been testing deer for the chronic wasting disease since 2002. The first positive was in 2013 near Harpers Ferry in Allamakee County. To date, there have been 89 positive wild deer. More information is available online at www.iowadnr.gov/cwd.