The NE Iowa Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited (WTU) is providing 550 WTU hats to be handed out to deer-hunting groups that allow samples from their deer for chronic wasting disease testing.From left, members of Northeast Iowa WTU Dave Zimmerman, Ted Walleser, Duane Vine, DNR Wildlife Biologist Terry Haindfield, Danny Leidahl, Jeff Holland, Ron Feddler,  Brent Hoeck and Chuck Kelly. (Submitted photo)
The NE Iowa Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited (WTU) is providing 550 WTU hats to be handed out to deer-hunting groups that allow samples from their deer for chronic wasting disease testing.From left, members of Northeast Iowa WTU Dave Zimmerman, Ted Walleser, Duane Vine, DNR Wildlife Biologist Terry Haindfield, Danny Leidahl, Jeff Holland, Ron Feddler, Brent Hoeck and Chuck Kelly. (Submitted photo)
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources was informed by the National Veterinary Services Lab in

Ames that none of the 3,628 Iowa whitetail deer tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD) by the lab during the 2009-10 season showed any signs of the disease.

Samples were collected from all 99 counties in Iowa; however the majority - roughly 2,600 - were taken in the seven Mississippi River border counties stretching from Allamakee County south to Scott County.

Emphasis was placed on that area due to the prevalence and proximity of CWD in Wisconsin and Illinois. Samples were collected voluntarily from hunter-harvested deer at check stations and meat lockers. The DNR intends to check a similar number of deer this fall.

"What we are doing is an important part of the national CWD surveillance and monitoring effort," said DNR Wildlife Biologist Terry Haindfield. "It is needed to give us a good picture of what is going on within the deer population."

The Iowa DNR has tested white-tailed deer for CWD since 2000; however efforts were intensified in 2002 when CWD was discovered in nearby counties in Wisconsin and Illinois. Since then, the Iowa DNR has tested more than 33,600 deer; none have tested positive.

CWD was first discovered in northeastern Colorado in 1967. Since then, it has also been documented in wild deer or elk in Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. It has also been found in captive deer or elk in Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Hunter participation was completely voluntary and the DNR thanks all hunters that assisted'with the CWD surveillance by providing deer heads for testing.

During the 2010-11 sampling season, the Iowa DNR will have a new partner in the effort. The NE Iowa Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited (WTU) is providing 550 WTU hats to be handed out to deer-hunting groups that allow samples from their deer. This gesture by WTU is very welcomed by the Iowa DNR.

"WTU has always promoted great programs concerning deer", adds Haindfield.

Northeast Iowa WTU Chapter President Danny Leidahl often gets asked by people who don't know the WTU mission, "Why do we need a group like this for more deer?" This opens the dialogue for Leidahl to explain what WTU is really about.

"WTU is about preserving the heritage of deer hunting, improving landowner/hunter relationships and educating the general public, with emphasis on our youth, the understanding of basic conservation measures", remarks Leidahl.

Leidahl says, "This donation to the Iowa DNR and ultimately to the deer hunters supplying deer samples for CWD testing, is another example ofWTU's continued efforts to properly manage wildlife."