Management of Ungulate Disease and Damage
Ungulate diseases in wild and domestic animals are a global concern. Realized and perceived threats of 2 diseases in particular -- bovine tuberculosis (bTB) and chronic wasting disease (CWD) -- have immense implications for federal and state wildlife management and agricultural agencies, domestic cervid farmers, hunters, businesses, and economies. Bovine tuberculosis is a serious disease in cattle in terms of its global economic impact, and oftentimes free-ranging wildlife have been linked as the reservoir for infection. Chronic wasting disease is endemic in many areas of North America, typically fatal in cervids, and reduces growth and size of cervid populations. Research is needed to supplement current biological and ecological knowledge about bTB and CWD and to develop methods to manage them.
A primary focus of APHIS is protecting the health of livestock, including captive cervids, realizing that the health of wild cervids affects that of livestock, and vice versa. The role of NWRC's research in this area is to address scientific questions that will lead to a better understanding of the diseases and to develop means to manage and control them. NWRC scientists are highly qualified to research disease transmission at the interface between wild and domestic ungulates because of their expertise in cervid and disease ecology, biology, and management. Additionally, disease specialists and field personnel are available throughout the country to aid with ongoing, long-term surveillance and research studies which will enable us to address and answer questions related to bTB and CWD spread through populations and across landscapes. Once more is learned about the ecology of these diseases; the cervids and other species affected; and the transmission, prevalence and persistence of bTB and CWD in wild and captive cervids, the knowledge can be used not only for disease management but also to educate the public about associated transmission risks.