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Targeted culling of deer controls disease with little effect on hunting
Date:10/21/2013

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. 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.

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."

He 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."

Novakofski 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 d
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Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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