DNR confirms further spread of deer disease through Iowa

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Deer testing positive or chronic wasting disease in Iowa since 2013, via the Iowa DNR. 

Julia Poska | February 14, 2020

Forty-three deer killed by hunters and vehicles in Iowa during the 2019-2020 hunting season tested positive for chronic wasting disease, also known as “zombie deer disease.”

This brings the total number of confirmed cases in Iowa’s wild deer population to 89 since 2013, according to an Iowa Department of Natural Resources press release. That’s a 93% increase in one year.

Chronic wasting disease is a 100% fatal neurological disease found primarily in deer and elk that causes loss of bodily functions. An abnormal protein causes the infection, spread via bodily fluids from deer to deer. Some symptoms include excessive salivation, weight loss, listlessness and drooping ears and head.

The disease is in the same family as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as Mad Cow Disease. The Centers for Disease Control reports that there is no conclusive evidence of the disease transferring to humans, but the center recommends avoiding contacts with infected venison.

The Iowa DNR collected samples from about 7,000 deer hunted or killed by cars across the state during the 2019-2020 hunting season. Samples from Woodbury, Winneshiek, Fayette and Decatur counties tested positive for the first time.

Officials have identified chronic wasting disease in wild deer populations in eight counties overall. Deer in several captive populations have tested positive as well (see this interactive map for more information).

For more information on how hunters can help limit the spread of chronic wasting disease, check out this flyer.

New legislation calls for double-fencing around deer farms

Photo by jonnnnnn, Flickr.
Photo by jonnnnnn, Flickr.

New legislation aims to reduce the threat Chronic Wasting Disease poses to Iowa’s deer herd.

Senate File 59 would increase the height requirement for fences surrounding Iowa deer farms from eight feet to ten feet, and would also require an additional 10-foot secondary fence.

“It’s a long-term disease you don’t solve in a couple of days,” said Dale Garner, Iowa Department of Natural Resources wildlife bureau chief. “When you get into this, you’re in for the long haul.”

For more information, read the full article at The Gazette.

Third case of CWD in Iowa

Photo by w4nd3rl0st (InspiredinDesMoines), Flickr.
Photo by w4nd3rl0st (InspiredinDesMoines), Flickr.

A third deer in Iowa has tested positive for chronic wasting diseases (CWD) — a fatal disease affecting members of the deer family.

The third positive case of CWD was found in the same Davis County hunting preserve as the first two cases.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is collecting and testing deer samples around the hunting facility. They hope to collect 300 samples.

Read more here.

Another positive test for CWD in Iowa

Photo by JaVieR PG, Flickr.
Photo by JaVieR PG, Flickr.

A second deer has tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD) at the same Davis County hunting preserve where the first deer tested positive.

The hunting preserve has been providing test samples to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for every deer shot at the facility.

Read more about the latest positive test here.

For more information on CWD, check out some of our previous posts: 1, 2.

CWD’s impact on Iowa

Photo by James Preston, Flickr.
Photo by James Preston, Flickr.

A couple weeks ago, Iowa Public Radio explored the impact of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Iowa.

During the radio segment you will hear from a wildlife biologist, the wildlife management supervisor of Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources and Iowa state Senator Dick Dearden.

Although they explore the general impact of CWD, there’s a particular focus on the relationship between CWD and hunting in Iowa.

The radio segment is available here.

Check out some of our CWD coverage here

Iowa DNR to host educational meeting on chronic wasting disease

Photo by gibsonsgolfer, Flickr.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is pushing forward with their efforts to contain chronic wasting disease (CWD) in our state.

The DNR is hosting a meeting in Davis County on November 20 to discuss how local residents can help monitor deer for CWD. The majority of deer tested for CWD are collected during Iowa’s shotgun deer hunting seasons.

CWD is a neurological disease that causes deer, elk and moose to develop small holes in their brain. This causes the animals to become disoriented and emaciated, and eventually die.

It’s believed that the disease spreads from animals eating grass contaminated with the excretion of an animal with CWD.

The diseases first appeared in Iowa’s Davis County over the summer.

Read more here.

Penned deer operations face criticism for CWD spread

Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Midwest Region, Flickr.

In the wake of seven deer testing positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Iowa, critics are condemning penned deer operations.

These penned deer operations are places where hunters can pay to hunt deer that are within a confined area. These areas must be at least 320 acres.

All seven cases of CWD in Iowa came from deer in confinement. It’s believed that the disease is more likely to spread in these confined areas, because the deer within the enclosure are more likely to come in contact with one another.

Read more from The Gazette here.