Iowa Supreme Court Rules Against DNR Quarantine for CWD

The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld a lower ruling against the Iowa Department of Natural Resources after the DNR’s quarantine of a hunting reserve where chronic wasting disease was discovered was challenged by the reserve’s owners.

Chronic wasting disease has been discovered in more than two dozen U.S. states and Canadian provinces. (Photo: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)

Tom and Ronda Brakke and McBra, Inc., owners of the former Pine Ridge Hunting Lodge in Bloomfield, Iowa, filed suit against the Iowa DNR years ago. This story has been brewing for years and came to greater public attention in 2014 after this happened. Since then it has been kicked around in the court of public opinion and the legal system, most recently with the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling.

Iowa’s highest court upheld the lower court’s finding, which said the “DNR’s emergency order was irrational, illogical, and wholly unjustifiable under Iowa Code section 17A.19(10)(l) because the DNR was acting outside the legislature’s grant of authority. The court, however, rejected the landowners’ argument that the DNR’s emergency order amounted to a compensable taking under the United States and Iowa Constitutions. Upon entering its judgment, the court also refused to reopen the record to allow the DNR to present additional evidence that the landowners received certain indemnity payments from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).”

After more court appeals from both sides it finally reached the state supreme court. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources issued a statement along with a link to the Supreme Court’s ruling and dissent.

The Iowa DNR’s statement:
As the state agency created and tasked with protecting Iowa’s natural resources, including Iowa’s world-renown white-tailed deer herd, we respect but are disappointed with the decision issued today by the Iowa Supreme Court in Brakke v. Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The Department’s quarantine of Pine Ridge Hunting Reserve was intended to prevent the wild deer herd from accessing the chronic wasting disease exposed soil on site. Chronic wasting disease prions exist in the environment without a live host.

Chronic wasting disease may be devastating to the health of Iowa’s deer herd. Among others, this could impact the more than 200,000 Iowans who hunt, which contributes more than $300 million annually to local communities.