DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa officials are planning a second special deer hunt in northeast Iowa to test the animals for chronic wasting disease.
The state hopes to collect up to 300 samples from mature deer in Clayton County, about 25 miles north of Dubuque, from Saturday through March 5, The Des Moines Register reported. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources wants hunters who will receive special scientific licenses to focus on an area about 10 miles west of Elkader.
The disease is fatal, according to Dale Garner, the DNR’s conservation and recreation division chief. No human cases have ever been recorded.
Ten wild deer in neighboring Allamakee County tested positive for chronic wasting disease last year, bringing the total to 16 since 2013. Another infected deer was found during the first special collection earlier this month. A wild deer tested positive for the disease last year in Clayton County.
Both counties are popular locations for deer hunting.
The disease is caused by an abnormal protein, called a prion, which attacks the brain of an infected animal, causing the animal to display abnormal behavior as well as to lose weight and bodily functions. The disease is spread between animals through nose-to-nose contact and environmental contamination from urine, feces and saliva.
The DNR will test lymph nodes from the deer taken in the special harvest. Officials ask hunters to not eat the meat until the tests show it’s free from disease.
The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommend that hunters not eat meat from deer testing positive for chronic wasting disease and that hunters wear protective gloves while handling game.