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Heartland Outdoors

Fatal deer disease confirmed in Wayne County

Thu, February 22, 2018

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

The deer was shot on Dec. 5.

“We contacted the hunter once it was confirmed,” said Terry Haindfield, wildlife biologist and coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources chronic wasting disease monitoring effort. “The test results are disappointing but not surprising. We are seeing an increasing number of CWD positive deer in northeast Iowa and from our neighboring states.”

Haindfield said there have been seven additional CWD positive tests so far from deer in northeast Iowa that came from the 2017 seasons – six in Allamakee County and one in Clayton County. The Iowa DNR is awaiting the final set of test results from the special collection in Allamakee and Clayton counties in January.

“We will set up a meeting in Wayne County to discuss what this means for local hunters and landowners and listen to their concerns and together we will form a plan to try to prevent or contain this from getting a solid foothold,” he said.

Chronic wasting disease is a neurologic disease of deer and elk, belonging to the family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) or prion diseases. Though it shares certain features with other TSEs like bovine spongiform encephalopathy (“Mad Cow Disease”) or scrapie in sheep, it is a distinct disease apparently affecting only deer, moose and elk. It is always fatal.

The disease first appeared in the wild deer herd in 2013 and each year since, the Iowa DNR has placed extra emphasis on tracking the movement and attempting to stop or slow the disease with the cooperation of successful hunters.

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