DNR deer photo.

Iowa State University Extension and the DNR are offering more sessions of a program called Chronic Wasting Disease Ambassadors.

Adam Janke with ISU Extension oversees the program. “The idea here is that we can take people that are already may be interested in deer are interested in the management of chronic wasting disease, and equip them with the technical knowledge and skills that they really need to sort of take their education and advocacy in their community to the next level, to try to help us sort of build this broad coalition to address the challenge that chronic wasting disease poses,” Janke says.

He says one of the sessions will be in Wayne County. “That’s kind of a partnership of a bunch of counties in southern Iowa, but we’re hosting it in Corydon,” he says. “And so we’re hoping to get participants from Wayne and neighboring counties. And then also Greene County, because that’s a new area in the state where we’ve just recently found chronic wasting disease.”

He says the disease is really complicated and there are some common misconceptions about how to manage it, and what sort of risks that it poses. “So what we do with this class is we try to get these committed learners caught up to speed on that science and those technical details. And then we actually talk about how to communicate effectively about this disease and how to sort of dispel common myths,” according to Janke.

He says it helps supplement the wildlife biologists in the state — which can’t cover every county. CWD was first found in wild deer in Iowa in 2013 — and it has been found in wild deer in at least 12 counties.
Janke says the best way to deal with it is to try to contain it.

“There is no cure for this disease, it’s 100 percent fatal. And when it gets into a wild population, it basically just continues to become more and more prevalent through time. And so everything we do about C-W-D management right now is trying to reduce it spread across the state,” Janke says. He says reducing the spread also reduces its prevalence within a population of deer.

Janke says controlling the disease is important for everyone in the state. “There are of course, a lot of hunters and we harvest over 100-thousand deer every year, and it’s an important protein source for many families,” he says. “But even if you don’t deer hunt, it impacts you because deer like to run out in front of vehicles or deer can impact agriculture or forestry in the state. So any sort of major disruption to our approach to managing deer is a unique challenge that impacts multiple different sectors of the economy.”

If you are interested in taking part, go to the Iowa State Extension website under natural resources — and you’ll find a button that says Chronic Wasting Disease ambassadors.