Could predation slow the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease?
A study conducted in Colorado, where chronic wasting disease (CWD) has become widespread among deer and elk, indicates that mountain lions prey selectively on infected individuals over healthy deer. I think that healthy populations of large carnivores like wolves and mountain lions could help slow the spread of this disease which has been found in a moose near Wyoming’s petri dish elk feed grounds. It has been shown that chronic wasting disease can bind to the soils and infect an area indefinitely exposing generations of cervids to this protein virus or prion.
It is possible that CWD has already infected Wyoming’s feed grounds since it may go unnoticed. Testing for CWD is usually done on brain tissue obtained from deer and elk that have been killed by hunters.
Mountain lions prey selectively on prion-infected mule deer
Caroline E. Krumm, Mary M. Conner, N. Thompson Hobbs, Don O. Hunter and Michael W. Miller