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DNR looking for deer tissue samples from specific areas as it monitors for chronic wasting disease

  • 12/5/2017 12:20:00 PM
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The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) continues to collect deer tissue samples from willing hunters as part of its effort to monitor for and track the presence of chronic wasting disease.

The Iowa DNR’s wildlife staff has a goal of collecting 5,465 samples. The bulk of Iowa’s deer harvest occurs during the two shotgun seasons which provide an opportunity to collect a significant number of tissue samples. Most samples are obtained by wildlife staff, checking with hunters in the field or at home processing points.

“We’ve had really good cooperation from our hunters so our focus now is collecting samples from some pretty specific areas within our target counties in order to reach our quotas,” said Terry Haindfield, wildlife biologist with the Iowa DNR leading the CWD collection effort.

He said the DNR is looking for samples from deer harvested from the southeast quarter of Allamakee County; the northwest quarter of Clayton County; the northwest quarter of Winneshiek County; and the northeast quarter of Howard County. In western Iowa, the DNR needs samples from each county along the Missouri River.

“Hunters willing to provide a sample should call their local wildlife biologist to see if the county or area where the deer was taken has filled its quota or is still in need of a sample,” he said. 

The DNR lists the cell phone numbers for its wildlife biologists on p. 45 of the hunting regulations. Hunters from the targeted areas needing additional help making contact to provide a sample can call Haindfield at 563-380-3422.

All counties have a quota of at least 15 samples, with an increased quota and collection effort in portions of northeast and eastern Iowa near Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, in each county bordering the Missouri River west of I-29, and south-central Iowa near Missouri, where CWD has been detected.

Additional testing is been conducted in Pottawattamie, Cerro Gordo and Davis counties, following positive tests from captive facilities.  The disease has been found in every state around Iowa.

Since testing began in 2002, more than 62,500 tissue samples have been collected and tested looking for the presence of CWD in Iowa’s wild deer herd.

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.

The disease first appeared in Iowa’s wild deer herd in 2013 and each year since, the DNR has placed extra emphasis to find the extent to which disease is in the area, and to help slow the spread by removing additional adult deer from the local population.

The Iowa DNR has more information about CWD and other infectious disease online at