Prion-Caused Chronic Wasting Disease Results in Decline in White-Deer Populations in Wyoming; At Current Rate, Local Extinctions Could Come within 10 Years

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has caused significant declines in east-central Wyoming white-tailed deer populations, according to new research published recently by University of Wyoming (UW) scientist and colleagues. CWD is a prion disease of deer, elk, and moose found in 24 states and two Canadian provinces. The new research, led by recent UW Ph.D. graduate David Edmunds, under the direction of Associate Professor Todd Cornish in the Department of Veterinary Sciences, is the first conclusive evidence that CWD found at high prevalence leads directly to population declines in free-ranging deer populations. The findings, published online on August 30, 2016 in the open-access scientific journal PLOS ONE, provide new information that could influence management of this continually expanding disease. The article is titled “Chronic Wasting Disease Drives Population Decline of White-Tailed Deer.” "Chronic wasting disease has likely been present in southeast Wyoming deer and elk populations for approximately 50 years," Dr. Edmunds says. "It has been steadily increasing to the point that some hunt areas are seeing populations with as many as 30 percent to almost 50 percent of harvested deer testing positive for this disease." For eight years, Dr. Edmunds and his colleagues tracked white-tailed deer east of Casper to determine if CWD itself can cause population numbers to decline by increasing mortality of deer annually. "We found that CWD drastically reduced annual survival rates in the deer population, especially in females," Dr. Edmunds says. Working as a graduate student under Dr.
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