DNR to discuss CWD in Harpers Ferry and Elkader ahead of deer tissue collection effort

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The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will hold a special scientific collection effort Jan. 20-28, in targeted areas of Allamakee and Clayton counties near where chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been confirmed in wild Iowa deer. The effort will be discussed during two public meetings on Thursday, Jan. 18 – one at 2 p.m. at the Harpers Ferry Community Center and the other at 6:30 p.m. at the Elkader Keystone AEA building. 

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 of the disease with the cooperation of successful hunters.

Results from the tissue samples collected during the 2017 season have been delayed as part of the national shortage of test kits, although state experts expect additional positives from the CWD zone in Allamakee County. In 2016, there were 12 additional positive samples – 11 in Allamakee County and one in Clayton County.

“This special collection effort is important because it can help us to fill in the data gaps from specific areas and can help us to better understand the prevalence and the geographic extent of the disease in the area,” said Terry Haindfield, wildlife biologist for the Iowa DNR.

Permits to participate in the collection effort are available after the public meetings, or from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Jan. 19, at the DNR office in Harpers Ferry or the Clayton County Conservation Osborne Nature Center, which will serve as the designated check stations. Permits will also be available at the check stations daily during the Jan. 20-28 collecting period, starting at 8 a.m. on weekends and noon on weekdays.

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