Deer hunters are being reminded to take precautions to avoid bringing chronic wasting disease into Iowa. The neurological disease affecting deer and elk is not believed to be a threat to human health, but it is fatal to wildlife. Iowa Department of Natural Resources deer biologist Tom Litchfield says hunters who kill animals such as deer, elk or moose in areas affected by the disease are restricted in what they can bring home. “If that animal comes from a chronic wasting disease area, then that animal must be butchered in that state and only the boned-out meat, hide and clean skull plate can legally be brought into the state of Iowa,” Litchfield said. The Iowa DNR has tested more than 38,000 deer for chronic wasting disease since 2003, with no positive results in the state. Officials have stepped up monitoring in border areas of Iowa in response to a report of the disease in deer in Minnesota for the first time last fall.
“We sample in every county, but in areas where the disease is likely to expand, we do increased surveillance in those counties,” Litchfield said. The disease also has been confirmed in Illinois and Wisconsin. Iowa’s early muzzleloader deer season opened this past weekend and runs through next Sunday (Oct. 23). The late muzzleloader season is set from December 19 through January 10. The two shotgun deer hunting season run from December 3-7 and December 10-18.