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Data for: Apparent stability masks underlying change in a mule deer herd with unmanaged chronic wasting disease

Citation

Miller, Michael (2021), Data for: Apparent stability masks underlying change in a mule deer herd with unmanaged chronic wasting disease, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.fbg79cnw6

Abstract

The contagious prion disease “chronic wasting disease” (CWD) infects mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and related species. Unchecked epidemics raise ecological, socioeconomic, and public health concerns. Prion infection shortens a deer’s lifespan, and when prevalence (proportion of adults infected) becomes sufficiently high CWD can affect herd dynamics. Understanding population responses over time is key to forecasting long-term impacts. Here we describe unexpected stability in prevalence and abundance in a mule deer herd where CWD has been left unmanaged. High apparent prevalence (~30%) since at least 2005 likely drove observed changes in the proportion and age distribution of wild-type native prion protein (PRNP) gene homozygotes among deer sampled. Predation by mountain lions (Puma concolor) may be helping keep CWD in check. Despite stable appearances, prion disease nonetheless impairs adult survival and likely resilience in this deer herd, limiting its potential for growth despite refuge from hunter harvest and favorable habitat and winter conditions.

Methods

Please see Methods in accompanying manuscript for details.

Funding

Colorado Parks and Wildlife