Chronic Wasting Disease In Whitetail Deer

2277 words - 10 pages

Whitetail Populations
Over just a century ago the whitetail deer population became nearly extinct, mostly due to a rapid expansion in the railroad system. At this same time market hunting, weak enforcement of game laws, and habitat loss contributed to the dangerously low deer populations in the late 1800’s. In states like Kansas and Indiana deer were completely extinct, being endangered in many others. With the whitetail deer population doubling every two years there is an estimated thirty million deer in the United States (Rooney, 2012). Although with these over-abundant populations comes the destruction of natural resources along with diseases and other factors that can tremendously ...view middle of the document...

It is said that there are one hundred deer per square kilometer (Rooney, 2012).
Rise and Fall
Although populations fluctuate every year, there are things that affect the population both negatively and positively. In the northwoods today there are so many reasons for a population to fluctuate. It is natural for a population to rise and fall as there will always be negative and positive impacts on a population. An increase in the population due to a decrease in hunting will have a positive effect on whitetail deer, while diseases that spread throughout the population would have a negative effect on the population (Rooney, 2012).
Declining Populations
According to a wildlife biologist who assesses deer all around the United States, we are near at a point of crisis. Since 2008, populations of deer have decreased by about ten percent. In 2008, there was thirty-two to thirty-three million deer and now there are thirty million deer in the United States. The increasing amount of predation, collisions, disease outbreaks, and aging habitat have an effect on the declination of the whitetail deer population (Miniter, 2012).
Predation
Each year twelve million fawns are born in the early spring. It is estimated that less than one fourth of all fawns born each year live until autumn, with the coyote being the biggest predator of fawns. Although coyotes are not the only predator of thiers; bears, wolves, cougars, eagles, and owls will sometimes attack and or kill a whitetail fawn. Adult deer have the same predators with the exception of eagles and owls. Survival rates of whitetails have been well documented in forested habitats as well as intensively farmed areas. These numbers do not account for the deer that are killed by collisions and diseases each year (Miniter, 2012).
Collisions
In 2008, it was estimated that over one million deer collided with cars and motorcycles in the United States. It has been estimated that there were about one hundred and fifty deaths and over twenty-nine thousand injuries from deer related car accidents. With the deer and vehicle collision damage being at an estimated one billion dollars for one year. On the other hand in Canada it was estimated that there was one hundred and eleven million dollars worth economic loss due to large mammal-vehicle collisions (Lobo, Miller, 2013).
Diseases
Deer populations are at stake with several diseases including hemorrhagic disease (HD), which is an infectious blood-borne disease that is transmitted by biting midges or flies. HD is caused by two closely related viruses; epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) or bluetongue virus (BTV). Death is common amongst deer with HD, because of the extensive hemorrhages. The most serious disease that comes amongst a whitetail population is chronic wasting disease (CWD), which is a contagious and fatal prion disease with no cure or treatment. CWD produces small lesions in the brain of infected animals. While eighteen states have reported...

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