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Public meeting on fatal deer disease set for March 10 in Leon

  • 2/25/2020 3:14:00 PM
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Leon, Iowa - Deer hunters who hunt in Decatur County take note– chronic wasting disease has shown up in your area. A hunter harvested wild deer taken during the first shotgun season in Decatur County has tested positive for chronic wasting disease. 

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has scheduled a meeting on March 10, at 7 p.m., in the Central Decatur CSD, 1201 NE Poplar, in Leon, to discuss the status of chronic wasting disease in Iowa and how deer hunters can help stop or slow the spread of this disease.

Tyler Harms, wildlife biologist for the Iowa DNR, 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 concentrates 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,” Harms 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 74,000 deer tissue samples for chronic wasting disease since monitoring began in 2002. The disease first appeared in Iowa’s wild deer herd in 2013. So far, there have been 89 positive tests.

The Iowa DNR sets an annual goal of collecting 6,900 deer tissue samples. The effort has focused on portions of northeast and eastern Iowa near Wisconsin, Illinois, and south-central Iowa near Missouri, where the disease 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 collected annually. The disease has been found in every state around Iowa.

Chronic wasting disease is a neurological disease belonging to the family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, 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 chronic wasting disease and other infectious disease online at