Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Targeted Culling of Deer Controls Disease With Little Effect On Hunting

Oct. 21, 2013 — 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 journalPreventive 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."

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