New Ambassadors Wanted to Help Fight Iowa Chronic Wasting Disease

AMES, Iowa – In an effort to better educate the people of Iowa on how to manage white-tailed deer and the spread of the difficult chronic wasting disease that plagues their populations, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is partnering with the department of Natural Resources of Iowa to offer two sessions of the educational program Chronic Wasting Disease Ambassadors.

Chronic wasting disease “ambassadors” will receive training in the scientific management of chronic wasting disease, both prevention and screening, and how to educate others within their community by biologists from Iowa State Wildlife and Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Participants can include hunters and non-hunters, community members and anyone interested in wildlife conservation.

“This will be our second year as CWD Ambassadors and we are very excited to grow our team of talented and knowledgeable Iowans who can help raise awareness of CWD management in the state, said Adam Janke, assistant professor of ecology. natural resources and wildlife management and extension specialist in the state of Iowa.

Two offerings are scheduled for 2022. The first will be at the ISU Extension and Outreach Greene County office in Jefferson on June 9, 16, and 23. The second bid will take place at the ISU Extension and Outreach Wayne County office in Corydon on Sept. 13, 20 and 27.

The course includes three in-person meetings from 6-8 p.m. and two online lessons completed between in-person meetings. Online lessons allow participants to review disease science materials and effective communication strategies, before engaging in hands-on activities in classroom sessions. Graduates receive resources to help spread the science of chronic wasting disease management in their own communities.

“We need hunters, landowners and community leaders committed to managing the disease to reduce its spread and reduce potential threats to people and other industries impacted by deer and deer hunters,” said Janke. “This program aims to train community leaders to go out and be good ambassadors and lead community responses to chronic wasting disease.”

Registration is available at https://iastate.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_82ZzT2MS5T0FSxU by contacting course leader Adam Janke. Registration will be open until the week before the opening of classes, or until the classes are full (25 people).

A light meal and refreshments will be served at each class session. Sessions will include instruction on disease ecology, hands-on exercises, disease swabs, and networking with area wildlife biologists. The class will end with a discussion and resources for graduates to return to their communities and share. For more information, Janke can be reached at 515-294-7429 or [email protected]

CWD Facts

  • CWD belongs to a class of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies that lead to neurological deterioration in infected animals. Other familiar TSEs include bovine spongiform encephalopathy (“mad cow disease”) and scrapie, which affects sheep.
  • The disease is 100% fatal in deer, but infected animals are asymptomatic for months/years after exposure. They can and do transmit the disease during the asymptomatic period.
  • Areas of Wisconsin that have suffered from the disease for decades have prevalence rates in adult male deer of around 40%.
  • Due to uncertainty about the spread of TSEs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against the consumption of CWD-positive deer.
  • CWD was first discovered in wild deer in Iowa in 2013. Today, it has been found in wild deer in at least 12 counties.

Photo credit: Large Whitetail Deer by ricardoreitmeyer/stock.adobe.com.

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