Iowa Chronic Wasting Disease Update
January 26, 2014
From the American Cervid Alliance News Room
The State of Iowa has subjected the Brakkes to a profound injustice. On the one hand, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (“IDALS”) takes the position that Chronic Wasting Disease (“CWD”) does not pose any threat to the general welfare or the public health of the inhabitants to the state. Based upon this position, IDALS refused to provide compensation to the Brakkes for the damages caused by IDALS’ extended quarantine of 450 of the Brakkes’ breed facility whitetail
deer. In addition, the Brakkes are incurring annual feed expenses of $130,000 to $150,000.
In contrast, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) takes the position that CWD presents an immediate threat to the general welfare of the state justifying a 5-year quarantine of the Brakkes’ 330 acre property formerly used as a hunting preserve without any compensation. The DNR’s order came after the Brakkes’ depopulated, tested, and disinfected the premises at their expense.
At the time he was harvested from the Brakkes’ property, the first positive buck, was over 300 pounds and was healthy as can be. During the proceedings, all DNR and IDALS representatives agreed that, the Brakkes followed the law, have been cooperative and could not have done anything different to avoid CWD.
During the proceedings, the DNR conceded that there is no known aggregate impact of CWD, on a statewide level. DNR also admitted that the overall prevalence rate of CWD will stabilize at approximately 1%. It was also undisputed that CWD can only be transmitted among certain species of deer, and there is no evidence that it poses a risk to humans or other animals.
Expert testimony provided during the DNR hearing showed that in Colorado the infection rates in some of the herds are 1% or less, and those herds may not see a positive case for years. Furthermore, in the Colorado game management units without a CWD finding, there was a 22% decline in deer population as compared with units with a CWD finding, which had a 24% decline. Accordingly, there was only a two percent difference in such units, which is an (insignificant difference, because the margin of error is 10% in those studies).
Federal experts at Wind Cave, South Dakota, where elk have had decades of exposure to CWD, indicated that the release of CWD exposed animals into the wild was not likely to cause a significant increase in CWD. This statement is consistent with USDA’s recent conclusion that “CWD is not highly infectious”.
The Brakkes have filed an appeal of the Administrative Law Judge’s decision to affirm IDALS’ actions. The appeal must first go to the Secretary of Agriculture before it proceeds to District Court in Iowa. The Administrative Law Judge in the Brakkes’ DNR case is expected to issue a ruling in that matter in the near future.