DES MOINES An agreement has been reached with the owner of a hunting preserve in Davis County to depopulate the facility of all deer and elk within the next several months following Iowa's first positive detection of chronic wasting disease (CWD) there.
The agreement, signed Friday by Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director Chuck Gipp and the owners of Pine Ridge Hunting Lodge in Davis County, contains a number of provisions to help contain the potential spreading of CWD from the facility.
"We are very pleased with agreement and we want to commend the owners for working with us in taking this important step needed to help contain the spreading of CWD," said Gipp.
Under terms of the agreement to depopulate the facility, Pine Ridge Hunting Lodge will be able to conduct hunts previously scheduled between Sept. 8 and Dec. 25. However, only antlers attached to a clean skull plate and the animal's cape will be allowed to leave the facility and only after samples for CWD and DNA have been collected. Pine Ridge is required to provide 12-hour notice to the DNR once any animal has been harvested so that tissue samples can be collected.
Other key components of the agreement include:
A refrigerated truck will be provided by Pine Ridge to store carcasses of deer until sample results for CWD have been confirmed.
Pine Ridge will pay for all CWD testing and disposal of animals taken during the planned hunts at its facility.
A 3-D electric fence shall be installed jointly by Pine Ridge and the DNR on the inside of the existing perimeter boundary fence of the facility with the cost of the electric fence being split evenly. The agreement also provides for repair of any fencing should the need arise.
A future operational plan for Pine Ridge will be developed in conjunction with the DNR after depopulation is complete.
After the first positive sample of the deer in Davis County was confirmed in July, both DNR and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) have been working to trace back deer that have moved to and from the Cerro Gordo County facility. From this effort, five deer at a breeding facility in Pottawattamie County have been identified as having tested positive for CWD placing that operation under quarantine.
In addition, 14 deer from the breeding facility in Cerro Gordo County have been sampled for CWD with one yielding a positive result for CWD. The Cerro Gordo facility is also currently under quarantine meaning live animals are not allowed to come or go from the operation.
The DNR has regulatory authority on hunting preserves while IDALS regulates captive breeding herds.
The 330-acre Davis County facility is currently surrounded by an eight-foot high fence and routine inspections are being conducted by the DNR to ensure the integrity of the fencing system so that no deer are coming or going from the area.
The DNR will increase testing of wild deer in the area by working with hunters and landowners to collect samples from hunter harvested deer beginning this fall.
There is no evidence that CWD can spread to humans, pets or domestic livestock such as pork, beef, dairy, poultry, sheep or goats.
Iowa has tested 42,557 wild deer and over 4,000 captive deer and elk as part of the surveillance program since 2002 when CWD was found in Wisconsin.
CWD is a neurological disease that only affects deer, elk and moose. It is caused by an abnormal protein, called a prion, which affects 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.
CWD can be transferred from animal to animal through contact with bodily excretions and the prions can also attach to soil and spread the disease among deer. Chronic wasting disease was first identified in captive mule deer at a research facility in Colorado in 1967. Prior to the positive detection in Iowa, CWD had been detected in every bordering state.