Chronic Wasting Disease Threatens IA Deer


With hunting season on the horizon, wildlife biologists are warning Iowa hunters to have their deer tested for a deadly condition that attacks the animal’s brain, much like Mad Cow Disease. Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is on the rise, threatening herds at an increasing rate. Comments from Jace Elliott, state deer biologist, Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Wildlife biologists are warning Iowa hunters to have their deer tested for a deadly condition that attacks the animal’s brain. Chronic Wasting Disease has been on the rise. It causes sponge-like holes to appear in the brain, and is present in up to half of the deer herds in parts of Wisconsin, which does not bode well for other Midwestern states. Jace Elliott, the Iowa state deer biologist, says the disease is 100-percent fatal and has the potential to alter the density and gender balance of the deer population in Iowa.

“More importantly, perhaps, really alter the deer quality that we have in Iowa. Iowa is known as a trophy whitetail destination, and there’s really a lot of interest in out-of-state hunters coming here to hunt deer just because of our well-managed deer herd.”

Elliot says C-W-D is on the rise in Iowa and since there’s no known cure at this point, it will continue to grow. That’s why he says it’s important for hunters to get their harvested deer tested by game officials, free of charge. While there have only been a few cases of C-W-D confirmed in Iowa so far, Elliott says officials do know it spreads quickly If part of the herd becomes infected, the disease will grow exponentially among the animals in a specific geographic area.

“The disease is spreading and we don’t expect it to stop spreading. What we’re really just trying to do is slow the spread as long as we can, until science can catch up and give us some other options for managing the disease.”

C-W-D has not been proven to be a threat to humans if people consume infected venison. But out of an abundance of caution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns against eating the meat before it has been proven free of the disease.

***Courtesy of the Iowa News Service***

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