No new cases of CWD, but DNR encourages public to continue reporting road kill and sickly deer within expanded focus area

The DNR has expanded the area within which they are asking the public to report roadkill deer so they can be tested for CWD. The area (outlined in red in the above map) includes Pleasant Ridge Road near Marquette headed west to Holly Avenue to Dry Hollow to Highway 76 to Waterville Road to Elon Road to Lafayette Ridge Road, the Harpers Ferry blacktop, south on Highway 76 to Marquette. Submitted image.

by Kelli Boylen
freelance writer

"We want to maintain a world class deer herd here in Iowa and have that herd be as healthy as possible, and we can't do that without you,” said Dr. Dale Garner, Chief of the Wildlife Bureau for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), at a public meeting held Thursday, April 16 in Harpers Ferry.
Garner and other DNR officials were thankful for the participation of hunters and landowners in the recent collection efforts to test more deer for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Allamakee County. No new cases of CWD were found in the 85 adult deer recently tested in the special collection.
A total of four deer have tested positive in Allamakee County; the first of those was harvested in the 2013 shotgun deer season just south of Harpers Ferry. Of the 309 deer tested (approximately 60 percent of the deer harvested from that area) during the 2014 gun season from an initial focus area surrounding that first positive CWD test, an additional three deer tested positive. One was harvested from near the horse campground area in Yellow River State Forest, another harvested in the area of Whippoorwill Hollow Drive and Collins Road, and the third was shot near the end of Cahallan Road off of Old Junction Road. Of the four positive deer shot during the last two seasons, two were male and two were female.
The four Allamakee samples, which prompted this past winter’s special collection, are the only CWD-positive returns on 55,000 samples of wild Iowa deer taken since 2002.
Since no new cases were found during the recent special collection, the DNR is planning to continue monitoring roadkill deer and those sampled during the regular hunting season. If more cases are found, the additional data will be important in determining what may be the best course of action for slowing the spread of the disease, Garner said.
If more cases are found, he said the DNR will continue to get the public’s input as to what course of action to take. “The landowners and hunters can help us determine how many (CWD) cases are too many and what to do about it.”
Although the number of samples collected this winter was less than the goal of 200, the results are encouraging and suggest that CWD may not be established at a significant level, said DNR officials. However, continued surveillance will be needed in order to provide a better picture of the prevalence of CWD within the landscape.
“Continuing to allow tissue sampling of hunted deer is critical for monitoring this disease. Acquiring 400 new samples in the new Surveillance Focus Zone (see area outlined in red on map on Front Page) during next hunting season will depend on the continued great cooperation from those that hunt this region of northeast Iowa,” said Terry Haindfield, DNR Wildlife Biologist.
Working with hunters will continue when seasons resume in the fall, Haindfield said. He encouraged those participating in early seasons such as youth, bow and muzzleloader to have their harvest sampled.
Garner and Haindfield stressed that the public’s help will still be needed to monitor for new cases. The DNR has widened the area being watched more closely (see map), an area defined as Pleasant Ridge Road near Marquette headed west to Holly Avenue to Dry Hollow, north to Highway 76 and Waterville Road to Elon Road, east to Lafayette Ridge and the Harpers Ferry blacktop, and south to Highway 76 on to Marquette. Anyone who sees roadkills in the expanded zone is asked to contact the DNR, and everyone is asked to be diligent in reporting sick-looking deer anywhere.   
There were about 20 in attendance at the April 16 public meeting. Haindfield said the public asked a lot of great questions and, once again, was very supportive.
CWD is not caused by a virus, bacteria or fungus, but rather a prion (an infectious misshapen protein). It is similar to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (commonly called Mad Cow Disease) and can be found in whitetails, moose, elk and mule deer. There is no vaccination for CWD and there is no treatment. It is always fatal to the infected deer.
Symptoms in infected deer include dementia, lack of coordination, abnormal behavior and excessive salivation. Infected deer are often emaciated and sometimes have a hunched appearance as their rear quarters are drawn forward. Deer show clinical signs of the illness within 16 to 36 months of exposure, and can spread prions through urine and feces prior to showing symptoms. Everyone is asked to refrain from feeding or baiting deer, as CWD can also be transmitted through saliva.
Anyone seeing a deer acting strangely or seeing a roadkill deer in the targeted area on the accompanying map is asked to contact the Iowa DNR at any of these numbers:
Unit Headquarters at 563-546-7962;
Biologist Terry Haindfield at 563-380-3422;
Conservation Officer Bill Collins at 563-380-0801;
Conservation Officer Jerry Farmer at 563-880-0422;
or Conservation Officer Burt Walters at 563-880-0108.