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Research supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation

Research to Understand the Effect of Chronic Wasting Disease on Mule Deer Populations

Colorado State University is conducting research on the mule deer population in the Laramie Foothills.  The study, sponsored by the United States National Science Foundation, seeks to improve our basic, scientific understanding of the dynamics of deer populations infected with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).  The project will determine if the population is growing or declining.  Researchers will work to understand how CWD influences population growth relative to other factors, for example, predation. During January 2010, we plan to capture deer, determine if they have CWD, and fit them with radio telemetry collars.  We will track these collars throughout the year to determine when animals die and the cause of death. During 2011-2014 we plan to recapture deer each winter to learn which animals became infected and why.  Our research will enhance basic, scientific understanding of an important infectious disease.

The goals of the study are to:

    1. Understand the genetic and environmental factors that control variation among individuals in their susceptibility to the disease.
    2. Develop a forecasting model that predicts effects of the disease on population growth.
    3. Estimate how many new infections are created by a single infected individual.
    4. Determine if CWD will cause sustained, long-term declines in the abundance of mule deer.