The opening of deer season this weekend will also mark the start of another round of testing for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
The Department of Natural Resources will be particularly focused on a few select counties in southern Iowa this year.
The disease which is fatal to deer has not been found in 10 years of sampling of the wild deer population, but this year it was discovered in deer held at private hunting preserves in southern Iowa.
DNR biologist Willy Suchy says they won’t be increasing the number of tests very much.
“Well, we have to keep the cost about the same, so we not going to take too many more. We sampled about 4,700 last year. We’re going to do pretty much the same, we’re just going to shift some around to different areas to do our surveillance and to
target where we think there’s the highest risk,” Suchy says.
They will sample more heavily in Wapello, Davis, Pottawattamie and Cerro Gordo counties where the infected deer were found. Most samples of the deer tissue are obtained by wildlife staff. A majority of the samples are taken received from hunters, but Suchy says they also take some sample from road-kill deer too.
“And the most important thing is if anybody sees an animal that appears sick of emaciated, to contact one of our wildlife officers or wildlife biologists to get a sample,” according to Suchy. The DNR has worked with the facilities to contain the infected deer, but Suchy can’t say if that has kept the disease from spreading to the wild population until the check the samples.
The heaviest focus on samples in past years has been in northeast Iowa after cases of CWD were discovered in the border states of Wisconsin and Illinois. The state has tested samples from over 42,000 wild deer thus far and found not positive tests for CWD.