Whitetail Deer

File Photo: A mature 9-point whitetail buck.

(Leon, IA) -- The Iowa DNR will soon be holding a public meeting about chronic wasting disease in Leon after a whitetail deer tested positive for the disease in Decatur County.

According to DNR wildlife biologist Tyler Harms, a hunter harvested wild deer taken during the first shotgun season late last year tested positive for CWD. The DNR has scheduled a meeting this Tuesday night at 7 at Central Decatur High School.

"For those that may or may not know, we found a deer that tested positive for chronic wasting disease in Decatur County through our surveillance efforts this past hunting season," Harms said. "In response to that, we hold a public meeting to basically notify the public about the disease and our response to the disease moving forward in terms of management."

Harms tells KMA News that CWD is a neurological disease that attacks the brain of infected deer -- causing the animals to lose weight, display abnormal behavior, lose body functions and then die.

"It's a 100 percent fatal disease that we see in deer," Harms said. "Once a deer becomes infected via direct contact or contact with contaminated surfaces, it is doomed to death 100 percent of the time."

The Iowa DNR has tested nearly 74,000 deer tissue samples for CWD since monitoring began in 2002. The disease first appeared in the state's deer herd in 2013 with 89 total positive tests. Harms says Tuesday night's meeting is a chance for hunters and the public to express their concerns and ask questions.

"Anyone that is interested in this disease can come to this meeting," Harms said. "Hunters, general public, or any folks that are interested in deer management in Iowa are welcome to come to this meeting. We will talk about this disease and what folks can do to help us slow the spread and manage it."

Central Decatur High School is located at 1201 Northeast Poplar Street in Leon. The Iowa DNR has more information about chronic wasting disease at iowadnr.gov/cwd.

Harms was a recent guest on KMA's "Conservation Update" segment. His full interview can be found below.

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