New research had found that the fatal brain illness, chronic wasting disease (CWD), has a direct impact on the population decline of white-tailed deer. University of Wyoming graduate student David Edmunds worked on the study and said the research shows the disease lowers the survival rate of female deer under the age of seven. As of right now, there is no way to manage the disease once introduced into a population of deer.
“There are other teams that are looking at effective vaccines, but the real take home from this is that policy makers need to consider this research when making management decisions about the movement of both live and dead animals,” said Edmunds.
The disease has the potential to lead to local extinctions in just 50 years, and has caused a 10 percent population decline of the species. According to Edmunds, the research provides all the more reason to find a lasting solution.
“Because Chronic Wasting Disease has this, we’ve now show that it has the potential to cause population to decline, really our best strategy is to prevent the movement of CWD into new naive populations that are not currently endemic.”
CWD is also known to kill mule deer, elk and moose. Edmunds's research was supervised by University of Wyoming Associate Professor Todd Cornish. The compete research findings and list of co-authors can be found here.