116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Almost 80 percent of a large, recently depopulated captive deer herd in Cerro Gordo County tested positive for chronic wasting disease, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship announced Thursday.
Of the 356 deer in the herd, 284, or 79.8 percent, tested positive for the always fatal neurological disease.
Tom and Rhonda Brakke of Clear Lake, the herd's owners, will receive $917,100 in federal compensation for the deer that were killed in late August, the department said in a news release.
'That's just wrong,' said Senate Natural Resources Committee Chairman Dick Dearden, D-Des Moines, who introduced a bill in the last legislative session to increase the height requirement for fences around deer farms and preserves from 8 feet to 10 feet and add a requirement for a 10-foot secondary fence.
'I'm glad that herd is gone, but we need more protection for the state's wild deer,' Dearden said.
One of Brakke's deer, shot in 2012 at his Pine Ridge Hunting Lodge near Bloomfield in Davis County, was the state's first confirmed case of CWD.
An investigation revealed the animal had just been introduced into the hunting preserve from the Brakkes' captive herd. Five of the state's first seven CWD cases were linked to the Brakkes' facilities.
The Department of Natural Resources confirmed the first CWD case in a wild Iowa deer earlier this year. The deer was harvested in December in Allamakee County, the DNR said.
Before the announcement of the 284 additional confirmed CWD cases, the highly contagious neurological disorder had been confirmed in 13 captive Iowa deer in three facilities since July 2012.
After the initial confirmation, the Brakkes' captive deer herd was immediately quarantined to prevent the spread of CWD, and the quarantine remained in effect until the herd was depopulated in late August by USDA Veterinary Services, USDA Wildlife Services and the Iowa agriculture department.
There is no known treatment or vaccine for CWD, and the only effective diagnostic test entails the removal of brain tissue from a deceased animal.
When federal indemnity funding became available earlier this year, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service appraised the 376 captive deer at $1,354,250. The owners developed a herd plan with officials from the federal and state agriculture departments.
Once the depopulation was completed and the premises had been cleaned and disinfected, indemnity of $917,100.00 from the USDA has been or will be paid to the owners as compensation for the 356 captive deer depopulated, the Iowa agriculture department said.
The owners of the quarantined herd have entered into a fence maintenance agreement with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, which requires the owners to maintain the 8-foot perimeter fence around the herd premises for five years after the depopulation was complete and the premises had been cleaned and disinfected.
'We're glad the deer are gone and glad there's an agreement on the fence that will reduce the risk to wild deer,' DNR spokesman Kevin Baskins said.
The DNR will increase CWD surveillance efforts in the area, Baskins said.
The Iowa agriculture department operates a voluntary CWD program for farms that sell live deer and elk. More than 140 Iowa farms participate in the voluntary program.
The Brakkes' captive deer facility left the voluntary CWD program before the discovery of the disease as they had stopped selling live animals. All deer harvested in a hunting preserve must be tested for CWD.