Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) - A Brief History

CWD was first discovered in northeastern Colorado in 1967. Since then, CWD has been detected in free-ranging populations in more than 20 states including Iowa and Wisconsin, and in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. It has been detected in captive facilities in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin and more than 10 other states, as well as Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada.

Iowa has tested more than 57,000 wild deer and more than 3,500 captive deer and elk as part of CWD surveillance efforts since 2002. Samples are collected from all 99 counties in Iowa; however, the majority have been taken in the counties nearest to areas where CWD has been detected in other states. DNR personnel collect samples voluntarily from hunter-harvested deer.

The DNR is keeping a close eye on the deer population as the disease spreads across the Midwest. "What we are doing is an important part of the national CWD surveillance and monitoring effort," said Dr. Dale Garner, bureau chief for the wildlife bureau. "It is needed to give us a good picture of what is going on within the deer population."

CWD Cases in Iowa: Allamakee and Davis Counties

In April 2014, the DNR was notified that a deer harvested south of Harpers Ferry in Yellow River State Forest during the 2013 regular gun season tested positive for CWD. This was the first known case of CWD in a wild deer in the state. In January 2015 three more CWD positives were reported from deer harvested in 2014 from Allamakee County. Two additional CWD positives in Allamakee County have been reported from the 2015 hunting seasons. The DNR is implementing a special CWD surveillance plan in Allamakee County while continuing to implement its existing CWD testing protocols statewide.

As a result of public meetings on February 17, 2015 in Harper’s Ferry and Waukon, the DNR and local constituents agreed to begin an intensive sample collection effort in the surveillance area, defined as the sections adjacent to, and including, the sections where the four positive animals were found. The goal of this intensive surveillance is to provide more information on the extent and prevalence of CWD in this area. This information will then be used to guide decisions for future surveillance efforts and hunting seasons. Only adult deer will be sampled. Cooperators will be issued permits to collect deer in the intensive surveillance area only through local DNR wildlife staff.

In 2012, three captive deer tested positive for CWD on a shooting preserve in Davis County. This was the first time CWD was discovered in the state. These positives were confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Lab in Ames, Iowa. Below are the Emergency Order, the Emergency Consent Order, and the Final Decision of the Natural Resource Commission related to the discovery of CWD-positive deer at the preserve. On Feb. 13th, an Iowa District Court Judge ruled that the Natural Resources Commission and Department of Natural Resources do not have authority under current Iowa law to impose a quarantine on the land and compel the owners to maintain fencing around the former hunting preserve. That ruling is available on a link below. The Natural Resources Commission has voted unanimously to appeal the district court ruling and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office has filed a motion to stay the ruling until the requested judicial review can take place.

CWD, Allamakee County

Positive CWD in Wild Deer, Allamakee County

Positive CWD samples in wild deer from >57,000 samples tested.

Allamakee CWD:
Surveillance Area Map