Iowa is participating again in a national program to test for Chronic Wasting Disease (C-W-D) in the deer herd. State deer biologist, Tom Litchfield, says they’ve already collected some four thousand samples this season for testing.
Litchfield says it typically takes a few months to get the results back as they have to send the samples in and there are other states who’re also doing the testing. C-W-D can infect deer, elk, and moose, and causes problems in their brain that eventually leads to death. Wisconsin and Illinois have found the disease in their deer herds, but Iowa remains clean.
Litchfield says the longer the state can keep from getting the disease, the more that can be learned about the disease and how to deal with it. Litchfield says the testing has been run since 2000, and it appears the threat to Iowa deer would have to come from outside the state. He says the disease would have to be brought in from a deer in a captive state, or from a deer who crosses the border from one of the infected states.
Litchfield would like to see the positive test trend continue. Litchfield says they anticipate having all tests turn up negative, but says you never know, and that’s why they keep testing. While Iowa remains clear of C-W-D, Litchfield says hunters are cautioned when processing deer.
Litchfield says there’s no scientific evidence that C-W-D can be transferred from a deer to a person, but it’s still recommended that hunters wear rubber gloves when butchering an animal and they’re advised to minimize contact with the brain and marrow tissue. Litchfield says hunters voluntarily bring in samples from deer, and some samples are taken from road kill animals.