ALTOONA, Iowa -- "A lot of people, they have businesses that surround around deer and CWD coming through, I mean, that hurts a lot of businesses and that hurts the economy," said Tyler Hill, an avid hunter and outdoorsman.
Businesses like Archery Field & Sports in Altoona are well aware of how devastating chronic wasting disease could be, not only to the health of Iowa's deer herd, but also to its bottom line.
"It definitely would affect my business, you know, as far as customers coming in the door," said Mark Wagner, manager of Archery Field & Sports. "If the white-tailed herd goes down, you know, you're not going to see as many guys going out there and enjoying the wildlife and hunting, so it definitely can put a damper on all the outdoor businesses in the state of Iowa."
And that would have a major economic impact. The Department of Natural Resources says CWD could impact the more than 200,000 Iowans who hunt, which contributes more than $300 million annually to local communities.
"Iowa's definitely been known as one of the top states for white-tail hunting, you know, we've got our own residents, non-residents," said Wagner. "In most zones it takes five to six years to draw, so there's a lot of people that want to come to Iowa and hunt, and so if we lose our white-tailed herd, it definitely can have a big effect on the economy here in Iowa."
Iowa's deer population already has its challenges. The spread of a major disease could mean the end of hunting.
"If you look at the deer right now, we're looking at really young deer," said Hill. "I mean, a good, mature deer is between five to eight years old, and there's only a small percentage of those around right now."
"There's a lot more hunters out there now than what there used to be," said Wagner. "The population of white-tailed deer is declining, and if we continue down this way, there might not be guys out there hunting white-tailed deer."
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