The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will take a more concentrated look at the deer who roam along the state’s western border with Nebraska this fall to screen for Chronic Wasting Disease.

The move comes after 5 deer harvested in southeast Nebraska in 2016 tested positive for the disease. The CWD coordinator for the DNR, Terry Haindfield, says the effort will be similar to what they’ve done when CWD has been detected in other border states.

“We’ve been obviously watching the eastern border along Wisconsin and Illinois and also Minnesota and Missouri. But now we are watching our some of our border to the west along the Missouri River due to some positives in southeast Nebraska,” Haindfield.

The effort starts with meetings Monday and Tuesday. He says they are going to talk to the public about the increase surveillance from Woodbury down to Fremont counties. Haindfield says they normally take 15 samples in every county. But he says they increase the number of samples in those border counties of states where CWD has been found and that’s what’s going to happen now on the western side of the state.

“We’re doing anywhere from 100 to 150 samples from hunter-collected deer in those areas — that’s our goal anyway for this fall,” Haindfield explains. The western counties have the “Big Muddy” between them and the infected deer in Nebraska, but Haindfield says it’s not an impenetrable border.

“Those border rivers are not immune to crossing from deer — they can obviously swim those — but they still are physical barriers. So that does give us somewhat of a nice hope that they might not have crossed that yet.” While it hasn’t been conclusively proven, it’s believed the infected deer in eastern Iowa may’ve come across the river there based on their location.

“We’ve had 18 positives total, 17 being in Allamakee and one new one in Clayton County northwest of Elkader this last fall,” Haindfield says. Haindfield says he’s been impressed with the way the people in northeast Iowa have stepped up to help collect samples and track the deer there.

He says the support has been “tremendous” after their meetings there and he says that’s why it is important for people in western Iowa to attend the meetings and find out what is going on. “Hunters and landowners have stepped up greatly in helping us get those samples, and also to help stop the spread of chronic wasting disease,” according to Haindfield.

The first meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday (Sept. 25), in the Lewis and Clark State Park Visitor Center, three miles west of Onawa. The second is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday (Sept. 26) at the public library in Missouri Valley.