Is CWD being handled correctly in Iowa?

In July of 2012 Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was found at Pine Ridge Hunting Lodge in Davis County. The facility is owned by Tom and Rhonda Brakke.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship have a Chronic Wasting Disease response plan.

Because the deer found with CWD are on private property, the state has to pay to depopulate the pen.

According to the response plan, regardless of the ability to secure funds for the depopulation, all facilities need to be depopulated within in 60 days.

And any exception to the 60-day depopulation plan shall require a written request by the owner.

KTVO sat down with several landowners and hunters who say the pen should have been depopulated within 60 days.

â??My concern as a landowner within the five-mile radius surrounding the pen is that they haven't followed their protocol of the response plan for a positive case within the pen,â?? landowner Larry Sylvester said. â??So, my question is what are you going to do if we have a case the in the wild herd. The plan as it stands right now calls for depopulation. As a landowner within that area, I would resist that very strongly because their failure to comply with their own guidelines for positive case within the pen.â??

According to the response plan, if deer test positive for CWD outside the pen, depopulation within a five-mile radius is required.

â??I don't hunt within in the five-mile area, but I do hunt slightly outside that,â?? local sportsman Denny Bradley said.

â??If thereâ??s a positive test found outside the pen that designates a new five-mile radius, which could easily catch where I hunt, the actual result of that would be the depopulation within that then that affects my deer hunt because it goes away.â??

One landowner said the case at Pine Ridge Hunting Lodge has affected his land value.

â??In June I purchased 180 acres specifically for hunting purposes and paid a certain amount of money for it,â?? landowner Gary Van Blaricom said.

â??Three weeks ago, the first part of October, the 178 acres four miles from the land I purchased in June was only bid to half of what I paid. Now, can we attribute this to CWD scare?...We don't know, but we think so. And the land didn't sell because thereâ??s a reserve on it. So, it's already in my opinion affected land valuesâ?¦if youâ??re a landowner and intend to sell ground this is a major problem.â??

If CWD continues to spread in Iowa that could also hit the economy hard. According to, the economic impact of all hunting activities is more than $200 million.

â??That $200 millionâ?¦is money that is paid for by deer hunters and sportsman (who) are hunting here,â?? landowner Randy McPherren said.

â??(It will affect) motels, restaurantsâ?¦all of the equipment that supplies different businesses in the state, so itâ??s a serious impact. If CWD hits heavily thereâ??s license sales that would decline. And in Iowa the Fish and Wildlife Division is funded by the sales of licenses by our sportsman and our hunters.â??

The Pine Ridge Hunting Lodge was not depopulated within 60 days.

The State of Iowa, acting through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, created an agreement with Pine Ridge Hunting Lodge to prevent further spread of the disease.

In the agreement, an electric fence was installed by both Pine Ridge and the DNR, but landowners said the fence was a waste of money.

â??The goal behind this electric fence is to keep (the) deer from nuzzling wild deer,â?? McPherren said. â??It doesn't take a rocket scientist too look at that and (see) a deer can reach right through there easily.â??

â??It was a waste,â?? Van Blaricom said. â??Whatâ??s even more of a waste is the dollars that sportsmen generate, hunters licenses and other things that support the DNR are the dollars that were used for all of the labor to install that fence and half the materials to install that fence.â??

Wildlife Chief at Iowa DNR,
Dale Garner, said the plan is not in legislative code, itâ??s a road map.

He said he wrote the plan based on what he knew at the time to help him with the process.

Garner said the agreement was created for Pine Ridge Hunting Lodge because it allows Brakke an opportunity to still have scheduled hunts, so he can still generate an income because the state does not have enough money to repay him for any losses that would occur. Garner said the stateâ??s interest is in depopulating, and Brakke is required to depopulate by January 31, 2013.

He said any discussion about quarantine will be discussed after depopulation.

All of the men said they can have meetings for days, but itâ??s the people who have to make change.

"If you have an opinion on the CWD situation, we urge you to contact your legislator whether you're yea or nay,â?? Van Blaricom said.

â??We live in a society that says they'll do it, or he'll do it or she'll do it; however, we need to do it. We need to stand up for what we believe. We need to protect our hunting rights. We need to go forward. Whatever it takes or wherever it takes us to get the problems resolved.â??

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is holding a meeting for landowners in Davis and Wapello counties to discuss Chronic Wasting Disease and the DNR's plan at 6:30 p.m. on November 20, 2012 at the Davis County Courthouse in Bloomfield.