Chronic Wasting Disease Detected Among Wild Deer, Elk, and Moose in 24 States
Wolves are Vital to Maintaining the Health and Vigor of Prey Populations
Wolves are coursing predators, and when on the hunt, they seek to feed upon the most vulnerable individuals, such as weak, sick, or old members of the herd. To determine whom in the herd is easiest to pursue, wolves rely on their senses – using visual cues, scents, and sounds.
Because they target sick prey individuals, wolves are well suited to remove infectious agents from the environment and reduce disease transmission to other prey. The scientific community argues that in this manner, wolves can help reduce the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) – an ultra-lethal degenerative neurological illness among elk, deer and moose that is invading ecosystems across the American landscape.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, CWD was first identified in Colorado in the late 1960s. To date, CWD has been detected in free-ranging deer, elk and/or moose in 24 states well as two provinces in Canada, and the affected areas are expected to continue to expand.
Currently, there is no known vaccine. Moreover, control strategies relying on hunting or “culling” by humans to lower deer, elk and/or moose numbers and subsequently CWD prevalence have not yielded demonstrable effects.
So the question remains, with wolves so well suited to maintaining the health and vigor of prey populations, why are some states spending millions in tax dollars to eliminate they very predators that help keep wildlife diseases in check?