The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the landowners who fought a quarantine after chronic wasting disease was found in captive deer at their preserve.
A captive whitetail deer taken at the Pine Ridge Hunting Lodge tested positive for CWD in 2012. Tom and Rhonda Brakke own the lodge and the deer came from their breeding farm in Clear Lake.
All the animals were destroyed and the facility was disinfected. The DNR issued an emergency order that required them quarantine the land for five-years, saying wild deer could still be infected by getting onto the land.
The Brakkes appealed the emergency order saying the DNR did not have the authority to do so and it was unconstitutional taking of their land.
The Iowa Supreme Court upheld the district court ruling — saying the law gives the DNR only the authority to quarantine the deer — not the land. The ruling says if the Iowa Legislature wants to expand the quarantine powers as suggested by the DNR, then it is free to do so.
And the Supreme Court ruled the quarantine was not an unconstitutional taking of the Brakke’s land.
Here’s the ruling: CWD quarantine ruling PDF
The Iowa DNR released this statement on the ruling:
As the state agency created and tasked with protecting Iowa’s natural resources, including Iowa’s world-renown white-tailed deer herd, we respect but are disappointed with the decision issued today by the Iowa Supreme Court in Brakke v. Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
The Department’s quarantine of Pine Ridge Hunting Reserve was intended to prevent the wild deer herd from accessing the chronic wasting disease exposed soil on site. Chronic wasting disease prions exist in the environment without a live host.
Chronic wasting disease may be devastating to the health of Iowa’s deer herd. Among others, this could impact the more than 200,000 Iowans who hunt, which contributes more than $300 million annually to local communities.
(This story was updated to add the DNR Statement.)