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J Wildl Dis. 2011 Jan;47(1):78-93.

The role of predation in disease control: a comparison of selective and nonselective removal on prion disease dynamics in deer.

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National Park Service, Biological Resource Management Division, 1201 Oak Ridge Drive, Suite 200, Fort Collins, Colorado 80525, USA.


Effective measures for controlling chronic wasting disease (CWD), a contagious prion disease of cervids, remain elusive. We review theoretic relationships between predation and host-parasite dynamics and describe a mathematical model to evaluate the potential influence of random removal through harvest or culling and selective predation by wolves (Canis lupus) upon CWD dynamics in deer (Odocoileus spp.) populations. Imposing nonselective mortality representing a 15% annual harvest or cull 51 yr after CWD introduction lowered both deer population size and steady state CWD. Selective (4×) mortality at the same 15% predation rate caused a more modest reduction in deer population size accompanied by a relatively rapid decline in CWD prevalence and elimination of the disease from a closed population. The impacts of selective predation on epidemic dynamics were sensitive to assumptions on parameter estimates; however, within expected ranges, the results of selective predation were consistent and robust. We suggest that as CWD distribution and wolf range overlap in the future, wolf predation may suppress disease emergence or limit prevalence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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