Iowa DNR training ‘CWD Ambassadors’ to help fight the disease

[Photo courtesy Nags Head Woods Preserve]

By Dar Danielson, Radio Iowa
A series of classes are underway in northeast Iowa that focus on Chronic Wasting Disease in deer.

Iowa State University wildlife specialist, Adam Janke is leading the program called CWD Ambassadors “What we hope with C-W-D Ambassadors is that we will train up some people who are connected in their communities as hunters or landowners or community leaders to sort of understand the complex science of chronic wasting disease,” he says.

Janke says the ambassadors can share their knowledge once they finish the program.

He says they can help wildlife biologists with the DNR and ISU Extension to spread the word of how they are managing the disease and some of the key behaviors to keep it from spreading.

CWD is always fatal to deer and has been found in ten of Iowa’s 99 counties. Janke says they hope to keep the spread limited. “By doing things like avoiding conditions that concentrate deer. Like mineral supplements or artificial feeding that concentrate deer in certain places, and that creates conditions favorable for spreading chronic wasting disease,” Janke explains.

He says they will also learn the importance of identifying deer who might be infected.
“Many deer with chronic wasting disease could be asymptomatic. And so it isn’t necessarily that we are looking for sick deer,” Janke says. “And if we do see sick deer on the landscape — we want to report those to conservation officers, or wildlife biologists.”

Several border states around Iowa have seen more CWD cases in more of their counties. “I don’t know that it necessarily has spread faster in some of those border states. But what we see there is it has actually been in that landscape longer,” he says.

Janke the outbreaks in other states have helped Iowa do a better job of managing the disease. “Because we get to learn frankly from some of the mistakes that were made in some of those other states. And we know a lot more about this disease now — and we think we can be a little more proactive and precise in our management practices,” Janke says.

The CWD Ambassador training is starting in northeast Iowa because those are the counties where the state has seen the positive CWD cases. The classes are taking place in Waukon throughout this month.