The shotgun deer season is well underway and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is again monitoring for signs of Chronic Wasting Disease in the animals taken by hunters. DNR wildlife research supervisor Willy Suchy says they’ve been testing for CWD since 2002. “We’ve had a couple of positives now, one in a wild herd and a couple in captive situations, so we are doing enhanced surveillance in those areas to see if there’s anything on the landscape that we need to look for,” Suchy says.
The main effort will concentrate on portions of northeast and eastern Iowa near Wisconsin and Illinois, south-central Iowa near Missouri, as well as in Pottawattamie, Cerro Gordo and Buchanan counties. The one positive in the wild population came in Allamakee County in 2013.
“The good news is that we’ve sampled up there for 12 years and this is the first positive. We’ve had over thousand samples within five miles of where this deer was detected, and when we look at the genetics — Iowa State examined it — and it looks likely, you can’t say 100 percent for sure, but it looks likely that it was a Wisconsin deer that actually emigrated into Iowa,” according to Suchy.
While CWD is fatal to deer, Suchy says it is not a concern for hunters. “If a deer tests positive, the CDC does encourage people to not eat those deer, but there is no proven health risk,” Suchy says. The CWD sampling involves removing and testing the brain stem and lymph nodes of the deer. Hunters willing to provide samples may contact a DNR regional office to arrange collection.
For more information, check the Iowa DNR’s website.