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Program ID: Innovation Anthology #301
Program Date: 03/25/2010
Program Category: Biotechnology, Environment, Genomics, Health and Medicine, Life sciences, Prions, Wildlife

CWD Spread Threatens Deer Numbers

Deer can live to the ripe old age of five to seven years.

But that will change if Chronic Wasting Disease takes hold in Western Canada. The infection kills in every case, posing a serious threat to deer populations.

Dr. Margo Pybus is Alberta’s Wildlife Disease Specialist. As she explains, most deer are probably infected as yearlings, and die in their second or third year.

DR. MARGO PYBUS: Take a doe, for example. If she only lives three years, then all of the fawns that she would have produced in her later years are not longer available to help sustain the population. So that some of the populations that have had long standing Chronic Wasting Disease infections in Colorado and Wyoming, they are starting to see local populations that have a younger age structure. So they are not seeing the older does, and they are certainly not seeing the older bucks. Because for reasons we do not yet understand, males, older males seem to be infected at two to three times the rate of older females.

Dr. Pybus says scientific research is helping wildife authorities monitor the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.

Thanks today to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research



  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research
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