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Iowa DNR finds possible case of chronic wasting disease on dead deer in Sioux City

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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) -- The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is placing Woodbury County on a disease surveillance priority.

Iowa DNR officials say a tissue sample from a road-killed deer collected on the south side of Sioux City is undergoing a follow-up test for chronic wasting disease. Initial tests showed a high likelihood that the disease was present.

If the disease is confirmed, Woodbury County would become the fifth Iowa county where a wild deer has tested positive for the always-fatal disease.

“We are going forward with our surveillance plan based on the presumption that the follow-up test will be positive,” said Todd Bishop, chief of the Iowa DNR Wildlife Bureau.

The Iowa DNR has established a priority zone for tissue collection in Woodbury County extending 10 miles around where the positive sample was collected and is working to have a map available online at www.iowadnr.gov/cwd.

Hunters who harvest a deer in the priority zone or outside the zone in western Woodbury County are encouraged to contact the DNR at 712-420-5584 to arrange for sample collection.

“We will be looking to collect additional samples from hunter-harvested and road-killed deer but, at this point, we are not planning to increase the number of deer harvested in the area as the local herd density is at or below our population goals,” said Bishop.

Chronic wasting disease was first confirmed in wild deer in Iowa in Allamakee County in 2013. Authorities say it has since been found in Clayton, Dubuque and Wayne counties.

In addition to the presumptive positive in Woodbury County, the Iowa DNR has confirmed positive samples from deer in Allamakee and Wayne counties so far during the 2019 testing season.

“We’re fortunate to have a solid partner in Sioux City who’s been managing deer hunting within city limits and we’re planning for that partnership to continue,” Bishop said. “We’d also like to reach out to other hunters in the area who harvest a deer in the priority area or in western Woodbury County, to encourage them to provide tissue samples.”

Chronic wasting disease is a neurological disease affecting primarily deer and elk. An abnormal protein, called a prion, affects the brains of infected animals causing them to lose weight, display abnormal behavior and lose bodily functions.

Signs of CWD in deer include excessive salivation, thirst and urination, loss of appetite, weight loss, listlessness and drooping ears and head. It is always fatal to the infected animal.

Anyone seeing a deer exhibiting these symptoms should immediately contact the DNR. 

CWD is a slowly progressive disease; signs are usually not seen until the animal is 18 months of age or older. Nearly all of the deer that tested positive in Iowa so far have appeared to be healthy and did not exhibit any signs of the disease.

There are a few things hunters can do to stop or slow the spread of chronic wasting disease, including not leaving the deer carcass on the landscape and not using feed or salt-mineral to attract deer. Sioux City banned feeding deer within city limits in 2012.

Dean Welte

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