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Public meeting on fatal deer disease set for March 15 in Corydon

CORYDON, Iowa - Deer hunters who hunt in Wayne County take note– chronic wasting disease (CWD) has shown up in your area.

A hunter-harvested wild deer taken during the first shotgun season in southeast Wayne County has tested positive for CWD. This is the first hunter-harvested wild deer outside of northeast Iowa to test positive for the always fatal disease. 

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has scheduled a meeting on March 15, at 6:30 p.m., in the 4H Banquet Hall at the Wayne County Fairgrounds, 800 Second Ave., in Corydon, to discuss the status of CWD in Iowa and how deer hunters can help stop or slow the spread of CWD.

Terry Haindfield, wildlife biologist for the Iowa DNR who is leading the effort to combat CWD, will coordinate the meeting. He said there are several things hunters can do today to help monitor for the disease.

"The first and most important is to allow sampling of hunter-harvested deer,” he said. “Second, is to remove any mineral blocks and feeders that unnaturally concentrate deer and increases the chance of spreading any disease, and finally report any sick or emaciated deer to the DNR.

“We want people to come to this meeting, ask their questions, hear the concerns from other hunters,” Haindfield said. “Deer hunting is an important tradition and, for some, a large part of their identity. It is also important to us and we need to work together to combat this disease. Our goal is to provide quality deer hunting today, tomorrow, and for future generations.”

The Iowa DNR has tested nearly 69,000 deer tissue samples for CWD since monitoring began in 2002. The disease first appeared in Iowa’s wild deer herd in 2013. So far, there have been 28 positive tests: 25 in Allamakee County, 2 in Clayton County and 1 in Wayne County.

The Iowa DNR sets an annual goal of collecting 4,500 deer tissue samples. The effort has focused on portions of northeast and eastern Iowa near Wisconsin, Illinois, and south-central Iowa near Missouri, where CWD has been detected. Additional testing has been conducted in Pottawattamie, Cerro Gordo and Davis counties, following positive tests from captive facilities. All counties have at least 15 samples taken annually to check for CWD.  The disease has been found in every state around Iowa.

CWD is a neurological disease belonging to the family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) or prion diseases.  It attacks the brain of infected deer and elk causing the animals to lose weight, display abnormal behavior, lose body functions and die. It is always fatal to the infected animal.

“Deer hunting is one of Iowa’s great traditions. We want to educate and work with our hunters so we continue to have the best deer herd in the country for generations to come,” he said.

The Iowa DNR has more information about CWD and other infectious diseases online at www.iowadnr.gov/cwd.  

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