CWD in Allamakee

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No special hunt this 

year to collect more 

samples for CWD testing

By Ted Pennekamp


There were two meetings about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) held in Allamakee County, Iowa on March 1. Twenty-three people attended the meeting in Harper’s Ferry and 12 were at the meeting in Waukon. 

“They (the attendees) seemed supportive to continue allowing samples to be taken next year,” said Iowa DNR Wildlife Biologist Terry Haindfield. “They had questions and comments on how to slow the spread of the disease, and were asked to report road kills in that focus area and report sick looking deer anywhere and anytime.” 

Two wild deer killed during the fall 2015 hunting season in Allamakee County near Harper’s Ferry tested positive for CWD. Three CWD deer were shot in the 2014 season and one in the 2013 season.

A special hunt to collect more samples will not be conducted this year as was done last year.

“Since the two positives this year were in the same pocket as the others (two to three miles southwest of Harper’s Ferry) and the DNR secured the needed 400 samples during the hunting seasons, a special collecting of additional samples will not be needed at this time,” said Haindfield. Roadkills will continue to be sampled all year in that area of focus.

“The Iowa DNR thanks the hunters for doing an exceptional job of allowing samples to be collected to monitor CWD in this region,” Haindfield continued. “Their cooperation is greatly appreciated.  People are encouraged not to feed deer or place mineral out which may increase the speed of transmission and spread of the disease.”

Last year, local residents partnered with the Iowa DNR to collect 85 additional samples during a special hunt after the regular deer seasons. None of those deer collected tested positive for the disease.

The surveillance zone in 2015 covered a 140-square-mile area in eastern Allamakee County and northeast Clayton County, including the area near Harper’s Ferry. Iowa DNR officials have stated that they will increase their surveillance in the surrounding counties.

CWD is a neurological disease affecting primarily deer and elk. It is caused by an abnormal protein, called a prion that attacks the brains of infected animals, causing them to lose weight, display abnormal behavior and lose bodily functions. Signs include excessive salivation, thirst and urination, loss of appetite, progressive weight loss, listlessness and drooping ears and head. The only reliable test for CWD requires testing of lymph nodes or brain material after the animal is dead.

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