Widlife biologist Terry Haindfield says a doe taken in the first shotgun season tested positive for the disease. “In the southeast corner of Wayne County, Iowa. It’s about five miles from the Missouri border,” Haindfield says. He says Missouri has had positive tests for CWD that were about 50 miles from where the deer tested positive in Wayne County.
Haindfield says it is a little disappointing to find CWD in a new county. “It is somewhat inevitable, but we were hoping to have that delayed as long as possible,” he says. The DNR plans to set up a meeting in Wayne County to discuss what this means for local hunters and landowners and listen to their concerns on the disease.
The tests from the 2017 season also found more positives in the northeast Iowa counties that had previously been the only areas to show the disease in wild deer. “We are at eight more in Allamakee County and one in Clayton County,” Haindfield says. “We do have some tests results that we are waiting for on the special test we did not long ago.”
Those special tests were in Allamakee and Clayton counties in January as a follow up to the positive tests there from the 2016 hunting season. There is a possibility that the deer in northeast Iowa could have come from across the border in other states that have had positive tests.
The DNR collected extra samples from deer taken in western Iowa this year after 5 deer harvested in southeast Nebraska in 2016 tested positive. Haindfield says with almost all of those tests back there hasn’t been any positive tests reported there. Haindfield says Iowa is still overall in a lot better shape than many other states.
“You look at adjacent states where they are having 200 or 300 positives that are coming back from their hunter-harvest collections and we’re still on really early onset of this disease. And although we are seeing some movement there — I actually was pleased that we didn’t go more exponential with positives in northeast Iowa,” Haindfield says. “And right now all we know of this in Wayne is that it is one positive.”
He says they contact hunters when a deer tissue test comes back positive. He says they find out if they have shared the meat with others and offer to help dispose of the meat. “That would be of their choosing. This is not a health test that we do, but it is additional information that they can use to make those decisions,” according to Haindfield. The DNR says chronic wasting disease is a neurologic disease apparently affecting only deer, moose and elk. It is always fatal.
The disease first appeared in the wild deer herd in 2013 and each year since, the Iowa DNR has placed extra emphasis on tracking the movement and attempting to stop or slow the disease with the cooperation of hunters.