The Iowa Department of Natural Resources reports 36 positive chronic wasting disease tests from some 5,000 deer samples this hunting season.
The DNR’s Tyler Harms oversees the deer management program. “We did add two new counties to our list of counties in which CWD has been detected in the wild. Those counties are Greene County in central Iowa, and then also Fremont County in southwest Iowa. So that brings our total number of counties to 12,” Harms says.
He says they will now do additional sample testing in Greene and Fremont County moving forward. Harms says they do with other counties that have had positive deer — and those tests give them an idea of the level of CWD.
“If you start looking at individual counties where we’ve had it — like Allamakee County for example where it was first detected in 2013 — we are looking at about a two percent prevalence rate, which is not unexpected it’s about right where we would expect,” according to Harms. “Our goal is just to continue to do what we can to keep that prevalence as low as possible.”
Harms says Iowa’s efforts to try and keep the disease in check are working. “What we’re seeing is that we are really holding our own. We know that this disease is going to continue to expand in counties where we have it. There’s still a lot to be learned about how to effectively manage the disease,” he says. “Based on what we can tell thus far and what we are seeing in the counties where we have the disease is not outside what we would expect to see in our review of counties in other states that have had the disease for much longer.”
Harms says the best thing you can do is to keep hunting and keep submitting samples for testing.
“If you are hunting in counties where we have detected the disease — those voluntary samples from harvested animals are a huge, huge benefit to our monitoring effort,” Harms says. “Consider submitting a sample from your harvested animal. Certainly, in these new counties like Greene and Fremont, these hunter-submitted samples are going to be very important for our surveillance efforts moving forward.”
He says everyone can help by not putting out feed for deer. “Chronic wasting disease is spread via direct contact between individual animals — so we know that artificial congregation of animals in small areas around these bait sources is going to increase the risk,” he says. Harms says hunters should properly dispose of the deer carcasses to help prevent the spread of the disease.
Counties with positive deer and year detected
Allamakee: 72 (2013); Appanoose: 3 (2020); Clayton: 29 (2016); Decatur: 1 (2019); Dubuque: 3 (2018); Fayette: 2 (2019); Fremont: 1 (2021); Greene: 1 (2021); Jackson: 2 (2020); Wayne: 22 (2017); Winneshiek: 10 (2019); Woodbury: 2 (2019).