Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Targeted culling of deer controls disease with little effect on hunting

Date:
October 21, 2013
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Chronic wasting disease, the deer-equivalent of mad cow disease, has crept across the US landscape from west to east, and was first detected in the Midwest in 2002. Little is known about its potential to infect humans. Now researchers offer a first look at the long-term effectiveness of the practice of culling deer in areas affected by CWD to keep the disease in check.

A new study found that the targeted culling of deer prevents the rampant spread of chronic wasting disease to healthy deer.
Credit: L. Brian Stauffer

Chronic wasting disease, the deer-equivalent of mad cow disease, has crept across the U.S. landscape from west to east. It appeared first in captive mule deer in Colorado in the late 1960s. By 1981, it had escaped to the wild. It reached the Midwest by 2002. Little is known about its potential to infect humans.

The effort to keep chronic wasting disease in check in Illinois is a success, report researchers Nohra Mateus-Pinilla, left, a wildlife veterinary epidemiologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey; U. of I. animal sciences professor Jan Novakofski; and postdoctoral researcher Michelle Green.

Now researchers at the University of Illinois offer a first look at the long-term effectiveness of the practice of culling deer in areas affected by CWD to keep the disease in check. Their study appears in the journal Preventive Veterinary Medicine.

Each year, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources tests 7,000 (hunted, culled or incidentally killed) deer for CWD infection, conducts aerial surveillance to see where deer congregate and sends in sharpshooters to cull deer at the sites with disease, said Jan Novakofski, a professor of animal sciences at the University of Illinois and an author of the study.

"We know a lot about how far deer typically move," he said. "If they're sick, they're going to spread the disease that far. So if you find a deer that's sick, you draw that small circle and you shoot there."

Novakofski called this approach "a textbook scientific strategy for control. You reduce contact and you reduce the spread of infection with the smallest overall impact on healthy deer."

He and his colleagues at the Illinois Natural History Survey (part of the Prairie Research Institute at the U. of I.) found that the strategy worked: The prevalence of CWD in tested Illinois deer remained at about 1 percent from 2002 to 2012.

The team also found that hunters were killing more deer each year in each region of the state (north, central and south) regardless of CWD and CWD management. Statewide, the number of deer killed by hunters went from 147,830 in 2001, before the appearance of CWD, to 181,451 in 2012. The only exception: Two counties out of 10 with cases of CWD saw a reduction in hunter harvest over the same period.

"We wanted to know whether Illinois hunters have fewer deer to hunt now than they did before CWD," said Nohra Mateus-Pinilla, a wildlife veterinary epidemiologist at the INHS who led the study with postdoctoral researcher Mary Beth Manjerovic. "We found that hunter harvest has increased, and the prevalence of CWD has been maintained at low levels for 10 years in Illinois."

This finding answers a long-time complaint by some hunters that the culling of deer makes it harder for them to find deer to shoot, Novakofski said.

"Since 2001, hunter harvest of deer has increased similarly in the northern region of Illinois, where CWD occurs, and the rest of the state, where there is no disease or sharpshooting," he said.

In the two Illinois counties with fewer deer, "the reductions were 11 to 20 percent," Manjerovic said.

The team compared the Illinois experience with that of Wisconsin, which changed its CWD-management strategy from one that relied on culling to one that consisted primarily of allowing hunters to thin deer herds, the researchers said. Wisconsin saw a striking increase of infection in CWD-tested deer after it did that, the team found.

"In the early years in Wisconsin, (CWD prevalence) was still about 1 percent, just as it was in Illinois," Manjerovic said. "Then the strategy changed. Since 2007, CWD prevalence has increased to about 5 percent."

"We can't find an environmental or other variable that explains the increase in prevalence except a change in management," Novakofski said.

The numbers may not seem alarming to some, said postdoctoral researcher and co-author Michelle Green. But the trend is of concern, she said.

"CWD is a prion disease (like mad cow disease) and it's 100 percent fatal. There's no current way that we can actually make the deer better, so it's important that we keep it from spreading too far throughout the population," she said. "And then there's also the connection to mad cow disease. We don't have enough information yet to really understand what the impact to human health could be."

"We all hope that there is never a case of chronic wasting disease in humans. We all hope that it never spreads to people or agricultural animals," Novakofski said. "If it ever does, the investment in maintaining prevalence at a low level in Illinois will be repaid a thousand-fold."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mary Beth Manjerovic, Michelle L. Green, Nohra Mateus-Pinilla, Jan Novakofski. The importance of localized culling in stabilizing chronic wasting disease prevalence in white-tailed deer populations. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2013.09.011

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Targeted culling of deer controls disease with little effect on hunting." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131021131005.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2013, October 21). Targeted culling of deer controls disease with little effect on hunting. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131021131005.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Targeted culling of deer controls disease with little effect on hunting." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131021131005.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A new study claims a set of prehistoric T-Rex footprints supports the theory that the giant predators hunted in packs instead of alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins