The owners of a 330-acre hunting preserve in southern Iowa’s Davis County where the state’s first ever case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) was found in captive deer have agreed to a plan to get rid of their animals.
Iowa Department of Natural Resources spokesman, Kevin Baskins, says the agreement is designed to prevent further spread of the disease from the Pine Ridge Hunting Lodge.
“Over the next four to five months, the cervids, deer and elk, will all be killed and tested for CWD. Baskins says some of the animals will be killed in normal hunts already scheduled by the owners. “Every animal that comes out of that facility will be tested for CWD,” Baskins says.
“Anybody that is on a hunt can only take the antlers on a clean skull plate along with the cape. None of the meat will be allowed to leave the facility.” Under the agreement, a refrigerated truck will be provided by Pine Ridge to store carcasses of deer until sample results for CWD have been confirmed.
Pine Ridge will pay for all testing and disposal costs associated with the animals taken during the planned hunts. Baskins says they are also working to ensure there is not spread of the CWD while the deer are still at the facility.
“Some of the other things that are part of that agreement with the owner, is that there’ll some additional fencing — including an electric fence — within the current eight-foot fence to hopefully prevent any nose-to-nose contact that those captive deer may have with outside wild deer,” Baskins explains.
Once the deer are gone, there are other steps that will have to be taken to ensure the CWD is not spread. “The problem is something called prions, which are basically proteins that are mutated. And they can be in the soil for number of years, so there will be some things that we will be working with with the owner. So once that facility has been depopulated to hopefully reduce the chances of there still being prions in the soil,” according to Baskins.
CWD was confirmed at the Davis County facility in July, both D.N.R. and State Department of Agriculture traced deer that had been moved between it and a Cerro Gordo County breeding facility. The tracking effort led to five deer at a breeding facility in Pottawattamie County which tested positive for CWD.
That facility was quarantined. One deer at the Cerro Gordo County facility tested positive for CWD and that facility is also currently under quarantine. The D.N.R. will increase testing of wild deer in the area by working with hunters and landowners to collect samples from hunter harvested deer beginning this fall.
The state has not found CWD in any of the tests on wild deer since testing began in 2002. CWD impacts deer, elk and moose, but the D.N.R. says there is no evidence that CWD can spread to humans, pets or domestic livestock such as pork, beef, dairy, poultry, sheep or goats.