Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Wisconsin Wildlife
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Wisconsin Wildlife Project

Deer movement and chronic wasting disease spread in southwest Wisconsin

July 2020 - June 2024


Participating Agencies

  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Management of chronic wasting disease (CWD) is one of the most significant challenges facing many wildlife agencies in North America. This project investigates how landscape heterogeneity, seasonality, and white-tailed deer movement behavior affect CWD spread. The project will investigate the impact of CWD infection on deer movement behavior, and the reverse, the impact of deer movement behaviors and contacts on CWD spread. This project is a collaboration between the USGS Wisconsin Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. By documenting the times and places where deer are most likely to congregate and the biotic and abiotic factors that alter movement patterns and contact rates, this research will help predict CWD dynamics that may inform management activities. Understanding why CWD spreads more quickly in some areas than others is critical to forecasting CWD distribution and targeting management actions to slow transmission.