The effects of targeted removal of deer groups on the epidemiology of chronic wasting disease in wild white-tailed deer in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s CWD infection is currently in a relatively early stage of development.  This provides some hope that an effective control strategy might protect the state’s white-tailed deer resource. Potential elimination of CWD in free-ranging deer has occurred (e.g., New York) so it might be possible to focus targeted removal efforts on locations where CWD positive animals are found at or beyond the fringe of an infected area.

By employing a systematic program aimed at simultaneously trying to control the prevalence level within an area while attempting to eradicate new infections along the margin of the area, investigation of potential methods for effective control of CWD outbreaks is needed by state agencies or federal parks if CWD is discovered. This research will have management implications for various agencies by: (1) removing antler-point restrictions on harvest regulations of male deer, (2) controlled localized culling of deer to potentially reduce prevalence and transmission, and (3) a combination of 1 and 2 above as well as a control area with no management actions to assess the most suitable method to decrease prevalence and minimize/eliminate transmission out of the disease management area.