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Open Letter to Dale Garner, Chief, Wildlife Bureau, Iowa Division of Natural Resources

February 24, 2011 | Take Action / Hunting & Wildlife Management / Free-Living Animals

This letter is in response to the killing of a small herd of elk living in Allamakee County, Iowa by the Iowa Division of Natural Resource (DNR).

Despite a glaring lack of evidence that these elk are infected with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), Iowa DNR officials state that they must kill the elk in order to prevent this disease from spreading. However, no disease is controlled by slaughtering animals who aren't infected with it.

Elk do not need to be killed in order to be tested for CWD. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Colorado State University announced a non-lethal test for CWD in elk nearly three years ago.

In a press release dated June 02, 2008, wildlife research biologist Dr. Kurt VerCauteren with the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, is quoted as saying, "The use of this new live test in the initial screening, surveillance and monitoring of CWD will greatly aid the management and control of the disease in the wild, as well as in captive settings." We question the value of using federal resources to develop such testing methods, if agencies fail to use them.

In a February 10, 2011 interview with KWWL news, Iowa DNR spokesperson Joe Wilkinson states that "[CWD] does not show up for almost a year or two." Yet, according to residents in the Yellow River area, the elk have already been sighted for two years. An email from a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation member indicates that the elk have been there for a decade or more. If CWD infection existed among these elk, it would likely be apparent by now, according to Wilkinson's statement.

As further justification for this killing, the DNR states that the elk are believed to be escaped from captivity, where they would have been treated as livestock. Despite sending out a notice to farmers and game preserves, no one has claimed them.

In a February 17 2011 press release, DNR Chief of Wildlife Dale Garner states that the agency "simply does not know" where the elk come from, adding that it is extremely unlikely that they are wild elk. However, since elk are known to migrate distances of up to 100 miles, and as no one rearing captive elk has claimed them, it is possible that they are wild.

It appears that the DNR is killing these elk either because they are unclaimed livestock or because they are wild. Certainly they are one of the two, but without evidence of infection with CWD, there is no disease prevention value in destroying these animals. Since 2007, no elk tested by the Iowa DNR has been found to have CWD.

Finally, the Iowa DNR states a fear of an increased incidence of CWD. Wyoming has thriving cattle and hunting industries "“ in fact politicians have recently co-drafted a resolution to delist the Gray Wolf from the Endangered Species Act, citing concerns that wolf predation on elk will impact revenues. Apparently CWD in Wyoming is not a big enough concern to justify the eradication of every elk that wanders into its borders.

On behalf of Friends of Animals and its 200,000 members, I urge you to stop this elk slaughter, and to use live testing methods to determine the CWD status of elk, if testing is necessary.

Friends of Animals encourages the public to speak out on behalf of elk in Iowa.
Please contact Dale Garner of the Iowa Division of Natural Resources and tell him to stop the slaughter of elk, using points in this letter, if desired.

Dale Garner, Wildlife Bureau Chief
Wallace Building

Phone: (515) 281-6156

If you are able, please attend the public meeting and voice your concerns.

When: 1 March 2011, 7-9 pm
Where: Waukon Banquet Center, 612 Rossville Road, Waukon, Iowa


This incident is very disturbing to me, I feel it shows a real lack of concern by the DNR for the very wildlife they are supposed to protect. I think rather than slaughter animals they should invest some time and effort into alternative ways to sustain life. I think if they had searched for alternative solutions in this instance they would have found out about the no kill test. Perhaps more people should voice their concerns to the DNR. Kay

I don't even believe there is a reason (other than scare-mongering and the lust for control) for the live-testing, is there? Elk die of natural causes. They are routinely tested then.

Thank you Terri. These government agencies are employed by the people and we need to make ourselves heard!

I just want to say that I was very upset to learn about this situation. It makes no sense to me why these animals would just be killed on an assumption that they carry CWD. The state of Iowa portrays its wildlife as an attraction. What this situation has done is show the attitude of disregard by those who would just kill them off with no proof of reason. After reading the letter above from Dale Garner, I am voicing my opinion to live test these unassuming animals first before deciding their fate. Sincerely, Terri Jordan Iowa resident

Wildlife is the pride of our country and we should respect them by saving them.

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