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Annual surveillance confirms 96 deer and three new counties for chronic wasting disease

  • 5/16/2023 1:49:00 PM
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Chronic wasting disease was confirmed in 96 deer that were tested during the 2022 monitoring season, including deer from three new counties – Jasper, Grundy, and Lucas. With the addition of Jasper County, chronic wasting disease has again come into central Iowa.

The Iowa DNR will be hosting public meetings in Newton and in Black Hawk County in the coming months to discuss chronic wasting disease, how hunters can help with the surveillance effort and what they can do to help prevent the spread of the disease.

“We thought of Jasper County as seemingly far away from the disease. That changed last year with our first detection in Greene County,” said Dr. Rachel Ruden, state wildlife veterinarian with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “Based on data coming out of other states, we’ve learned that deer can travel much greater distances than previously thought - 75 to 100 miles – so there really isn’t any place in Iowa where this disease can’t turn up.”

She said additional tissue samples will be collected from the new counties for the upcoming year to get a better picture for what is going on in these areas.

While the disease showed up in three new counties, it hasn’t been found in Woodbury County for two years and in Decatur County since 2019.

“The increased sampling after initial detections in Woodbury and Decatur counties did not yield additional positives, so the quotas in these areas will likely be downgraded to one tier above their previous baseline sampling goals,” Ruden said. “Now that doesn’t mean we won’t find it in the future.”

The Iowa DNR identifies the location of each of the positives and the year it was confirmed on its chronic wasting disease online dashboard at https://www.iowadnr.gov/Hunting/Deer-Hunting/Deer-Health/Chronic-Wasting-Disease/Surveillance-Results.

The Iowa DNR samples around 5,000 deer each year. More than 100,000 tissue samples have been collected and tested since 2002. The first deer tested positive in 2013, in Allamakee County. A total of 259 deer have tested positive to date.

The Iowa DNR partners with hunters, conservation boards, the Iowa Department of Transportation, taxidermists, lockers, city departments and others to collect samples for testing. 

The DNR also implemented targeted incentive zone hunts in three counties - Allamakee, Clayton and Wayne.

“Part of our disease management strategy is to focus additional antlerless harvest in localized areas where we have found a high density of positive deer and this year, 29 of the 96 positives- nearly one third - came from these hunts,” Ruden said.

Part of that harvest success in the endemic areas may be due to outreach staff working in the area to increase the visibility of the disease. This is the second year the outreach specialists, funded by a grant from the USDA, have been working in these areas.  

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