"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 t
|Contact: Diana Yates|
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign