Evaluating the ability of a locally focused culling program in removing chronic wasting disease infected free-ranging white-tailed deer in Illinois, USA, 2003–2020

Csaba Varga, Patrick McDonald, William M. Brown, Paul Shelton, Alfred L Roca, Jan E Novakofski, Nohra E. Mateus-Pinilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In northern Illinois, chronic wasting disease (CWD) was first identified in free-ranging white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus; hereafter referred to as “deer”) in 2002. To reduce CWD transmission rates in Illinois, wildlife biologists have conducted locally focussed culling of deer since 2003 in areas where CWD has been detected. We used retrospective spatial, temporal and space-time scan statistical models to identify areas and periods where culling removed higher than expected numbers of CWD-positive deer. We included 490 Public Land Survey “sections” (∼2.59 km2) from 15 northern Illinois counties in which at least one deer tested positive for CWD between 2003 and 2020. A negative binomial regression model compared the proportion of CWD positive cases removed from sections with at least one CWD case detected in the previous years, “local area 1 (L1),” to the proportion of CWD cases in adjacent sections—L2, L3, and L4—designated by their increasing distance from L1. Of the 14,661 deer removed and tested via culling, 325 (2.22 %) were CWD-positive. A single temporal CWD cluster occurred in 2020. Three spatial clusters were identified, with a primary cluster located at the border of Boone and Winnebago counties. Four space-time clusters were identified with a primary cluster in the northern portion of the study area from 2003 to 2005 that overlapped with the spatial cluster. The proportion of CWD cases removed from L1 (3.92, 95% CI, 2.56–6.01) and L2 (2.32, 95% CI, 1.50–3.59) were significantly higher compared to L3. Focussing culling efforts on accessible properties closest to L1 areas results in more CWD-infected deer being removed, which highlights the value of collaborations among landowners, hunters, and wildlife management agencies to control CWD. Continuous evaluation and updating of the culling and surveillance programs are essential to mitigate the health burden of CWD on deer populations in Illinois.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTransboundary and Emerging Diseases
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - Jan 5 2022

Keywords

  • chronic wasting disease
  • deer
  • disease management
  • Illinois
  • retrospective studies
  • spatio-temporal analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • veterinary(all)

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