Saturday, August 25, 2012

WISCONSIN NEWS: October CWD Hunt Scrapped by Governor

Wisconsin will give up trying to control a contagious disease affecting the state's deer population.
Gov. Scott Walker on Friday rejected state wildlife officials' request to run a four-day October antlerless deer hunt in the chronic wasting disease zone, saying he wants to streamline Wisconsin's hunting season structure.

Walker said he's abiding by a report Texas deer researcher James Kroll gave to the Department of Natural Resources in June. The governor hired Kroll to review the DNR's deer hunting regulations and strategies. Kroll noted hunters are unhappy with what they see as a complex web of multiple hunting seasons and questioned whether the October hunt generated enough kills in the CWD zone to continue.

Unless the epidemiology of CWD changes to become less contagious (it develops an R-sub zero of less than 1.0, as experts would say) we can expect the disease to spread throughout the state.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

RESEARCH NEWS: Another Recent Study Questions Deer-Lyme Link

A recent study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, questioning the link between deer and Lyme disease. It is not the first study to do so, and in fact my view on the connections between deer and Lyme (such as they are) are a minority viewpoint within the field. Moreover, I do not conduct disease research, so my opinion should not be regarded as "expert opinion" on the topic.
Deer, predators, and the emergence of Lyme disease

Lyme disease is the most prevalent vector-borne disease in North America, and both the annual incidence and geographic range are increasing. The emergence of Lyme disease has been attributed to a century-long recovery of deer, an important reproductive host for adult ticks. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that Lyme disease risk may now be more dynamically linked to fluctuations in the abundance of small-mammal hosts that are thought to infect the majority of ticks. The continuing and rapid increase in Lyme disease over the past two decades, long after the recolonization of deer, suggests that other factors, including changes in the ecology of small-mammal hosts may be responsible for the continuing emergence of Lyme disease. We present a theoretical model that illustrates how reductions in small-mammal predators can sharply increase Lyme disease risk. We then show that increases in Lyme disease in the northeastern and midwestern United States over the past three decades are frequently uncorrelated with deer abundance and instead coincide with a range-wide decline of a key small-mammal predator, the red fox, likely due to expansion of coyote populations. Further, across four states we find poor spatial correlation between deer abundance and Lyme disease incidence, but coyote abundance and fox rarity effectively predict the spatial distribution of Lyme disease in New York. These results suggest that changes in predator communities may have cascading impacts that facilitate the emergence of zoonotic diseases, the vast majority of which rely on hosts that occupy low trophic levels.
Link to study here