Tests on three elk killed in northeast Iowa last month show the animals did not have a contagious, fatal neurological disease. Iowa Department of Natural Resources officers shot the elk in Allamakee County over concerns they might have chronic wasting disease (CWD) – which threatens Iowa’s wild deer herd.
Some Iowans have protested the D.N.R.’s actions, but D.N.R. wildlife biologist Terry Haindfield says a wild elk herd in Iowa would pose too big of a threat to livestock and whitetail deer. “At this current time, we don’t see where (an elk herd in Iowa) would be feasible for the amount of land available for habitat for elk, for compatibility with other concerns and the potential threat of CWD,” Haindfield said.
The elk herd has been seen along the Yellow River. Haindfield says he understands why some people would prefer the elk be allowed to roam free. “People’s intentions are very good and I’m excited that they’re interested in wildlife,” Haindfield said. “But, there’s a lot to risk with trying to start an elk herd with ones that probably escaped from captive facilities.”
CWD has not yet been detected in Iowa, but it has been confirmed in wild deer in all of the bordering states. Haindfield says, despite the negative tests on the three elk, other elk will be shot by the D.N.R. if they’re spotted roaming free. He’s asking for people to contact the D.N.R. if they spot the animals.
At least two other elk believed to be roaming in Allamakee County are still being sought.