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Iowa’s 47th spring turkey season is one for the records

Iowa hunters reported harvesting more than 14,600 turkeys during the spring season, which is the highest spring turkey harvest since mandatory harvest reporting began in 2007. The previous high was 12,173 in 2016.

Wild turkeys were harvested in all of Iowa’s 99 counties. Iowa’s spring turkey season ended May 17.

Hunters respond to call for turkey legs

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Iowa State University set a goal of collecting 500 turkey legs from successful hunters to test for the presence of Lymphoproliferative Disease (LPDV) that may be impacting Iowa’s turkey population.

Iowa’s current turkey population trend is mostly flat or slightly declining across much of the state. It’s a trend occurring not only in Iowa.

“We are not sure what impact LPDV may have on wild turkey populations but it is one aspect we are considering when looking at the decline of turkey populations in Iowa and across the country,” said Jim Coffey, forest wildlife research biologist for the Iowa DNR. “Hunters really stepped up by providing these samples that may help us better understand what’s going on with the turkey population in Iowa.”

Coffey encouraged hunters who still have a lower turkey leg and want to participate in the study to go online to www.iowadnr.gov/turkey to request a packet.

“We encourage samples from all counties but can really use additional samples from the northwest part of the state,” Coffey said.

Media Contact: Jim Coffey, Forest Wildlife Research Biologist, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 641-774-2958.

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New virus strain impacting rabbit populations
State wildlife experts are on the lookout for a new virus impacting the native rabbit and hare populations in Texas, Arizona, Colorado, California and New Mexico.

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease can persist in the environment and can be spread from rabbit to rabbit, by predators, insects and even by vehicle traffic, impacting populations in new areas. While the virus is not currently in Iowa, it is as close as eastern Colorado and northern Texas.

The disease could have a significant impact on native populations that have not experienced a virus like this before. Feral and domestic rabbits are also susceptible. Iowa State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Rachel Ruden said getting this virus on Iowans’ radar is key to minimizing its impact should it show up here.

“Eastern cottontails are fairly common and seeing a single dead rabbit should not be a cause for alarm—common rule-outs include vehicular collision, cat attack, or other predator attack. However, if you see any unusual mortality, like clusters of dead rabbits with no obvious sign of external trauma, we’d like you to contact the DNR,” Dr. Ruden said. “Infected animals die quickly, sometimes with blood visible around the nose, but often with no signs of illness. If you see something that doesn’t look right, give us a call. Early detection can help prevent a larger outbreak in Iowa.”

The recently emerged strain of rabbit hemorrhagic disease, RHDV2, was first detected in Europe in 2010. It is not related to epizootic hemorrhagic disease that can cause mortality in deer or COVID-19, the current cause of the human pandemic. It does not pose a risk to people and is not known to affect other animals.

More information is available online at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/fs-rhdv2.pdf.