Ambassadors Sought to Help Fight Chronic Wasting Disease in Iowa White-tailed Deer

Classes to help educate more Iowans about CWD

October 18, 2021, 10:28 am | Adam Janke

Large White Tail Buck by ricardoreitmeyer/, Iowa – As deer hunters head to the woods this fall, they are again reminded to be vigilant and active participants in the state’s efforts to fight chronic wasting disease.

Chronic Wasting Disease is 100% fatal in deer and has been found in wild deer in at least 10 Iowa counties. In an effort to better educate Iowans on how to manage deer and the spread of the disease, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is offering a new educational program called Chronic Wasting Disease Ambassadors.

The “ambassadors” will be trained in the science-based management of CWD, both prevention and testing, and how to educate others within their community. Participants can include hunters and non-hunters, community members and those interested in conservation, in northeast Iowa.

The course will be held three nights in November (Nov. 4, Nov. 11 and Nov. 18), from 6-8 p.m. in Waukon, at the Allamakee Farm Bureau building. Between class sessions, participants will review materials on the science of the disease and effective communication prepared by Iowa State University and Iowa DNR professionals.

“We need hunters, landowners and community leaders engaged in the management of the disease to reduce its spread and reduce potential threats to people and other industries impacted by deer and deer hunters,” said Adam Janke, assistant professor in natural resources ecology and management and extension wildlife specialist at Iowa State University. “The program will seek to train people to go out and be good ambassadors and lead community responses to CWD.”

Registration is available online or by contacting course facilitator Adam Janke. Registration will be open until Tuesday, Nov. 2.

A light meal and refreshments will be served at each class session. Sessions will include instruction on the ecology of the disease, hands-on exercises, sampling for the disease and networking with wildlife biologists in the region. The class will conclude with discussion and resources for the graduates to return to their communities and share. For more information, Janke can be reached at 515-294-7429 or

CWD facts

  • CWD is in a class of diseases called Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies that lead to neurological degradation in the infected animals. Other familiar TSEs include Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (“Mad Cow Disease”) and Scrapie, that 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 had the disease for decades show prevalence rates among adult male deer around 40%.
  • Because of the uncertainty of how TSEs spread, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise against consumption of CWD-positive deer.
  • CWD was first found in wild deer in Iowa in 2013. Today, it has been found in wild deer in at least 10 counties.


Photo credit: ricardoreitmeyer/

About the Authors: